Archive for the ‘Insights and Reflections’ Category

I’m at a crossroads; and I’m searching my heart for answers, for directions.  It seems totally at a loss of what to do, of what to choose.

I have learned that I need to pray hard and examine all my motives, my pains, my goals – those that really matter.  I have been at this for sometime now.  The road ahead is still dark and my vision still unclear.

I am asking the universe for answers.  I am exploring the different possibilities.  I am considering the impending consequences.  Still no answer…

All I know is that there is a gnawing in my gut telling me I am getting far from the path of my happiness.  I feel lost.   Fulfillment is out of reach.  There is this sadness I can’t seem to fathom.

I have seen success as the world offers it and it does not give me enough joy to fill even my simple uncomplicated heart.  There is this ever-widening void deep within me, haunting me even in my sleep.  It tells me I am not doing what I came to do.  I am not where I should be.  I need to stop.  Look hard at where I’m going.  Choose a road to take – a road to follow for the rest of my life.

In my confusion I remember these lines from ― Brian Andreas’  “Traveling Light: Stories & Drawings for a Quiet Mind”.

You may not remember the time you let me go first.
Or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn’t that far to go.
Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up.
You may not remember any of those, but I do and this is what I have to say to you:

Today, no matter what it takes,
we ride home together.”

And then I thought of my children,  my dearest MJ and Mahalaleel.  I thought of my husband, always there, always patient with me.  Thoughts of a cozy loving home enveloped me, of quiet talks and laughter, of books and the smell of crisp lovely pages,  … Is this my cue?  Oh God,  help me decide.

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My head bursts with ideas and insights, my heart longs to sing its unheard songs, my fettered fingers itches to hold a pen and scribble away its cares…

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Sunday, January 26, 2014 – 9:00 a.m.

This date and time has been so marked in the family’s calendar.   What with the scouts in the house set to meet a king; and with scouts in the house I mean my husband, Marlon, and our two kids, MJ and Mahal.  Simply put that means, I will be the only one left out during this momentous occasion.  And the king these excited trio will meet is King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Fast forward to the day and five hours before His Majesty’s plane lands in Tacloban City Airport…

The house was astir so early and everyone was in high spirits and though I felt left out, I was the most excited one of all – what with my kids meeting a king in person – a big story they can tell their children and grandchildren in the future.  They’ll serve as honorary guards in the reception line of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.  And the scouts were all up to the task ahead, uniforms crisp and clean, fresh from the plastic wrapping that saved them from Yolanda’s wrath, faces freshly scrubbed, hair well-combed… they were a sight to see – three scouts in parade dress… minus the shoes!  Why?  Shoes had to be cleaned again and again and again.

I found myself tasked with the tall order of making moldy and storm-surge-hardened black shoes shine to the max, that is if it was possible to make them shine.  These have been washed twice and wiped clean as well but when we took them out of the shoe rack they were moldy again.  So I applied all the strength, patience and  skill in shining three pairs of shoes that must gleam before the eyes of a king.

In God’s grace and mercy after an hour of toiling with brushes and shoe shine polish, there were three pairs of shoes gleaming and ready for inspection of a king.

And though I was left alone to attend to the one and million chores at home, I felt accomplished and happy as if I already met a king.

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Am I the me that you see?

Are you the you that I know?

Will a hundred lifetimes suffice

To say “oh, I understand you so”?

Who has answers and certainties?

Is every soul a lonely stranger after all?

–          Belinda  11/9/12  9:20 a.m.

I actually have no idea yet how to entitle this poem.  These words just came in a flash this morning and I just had to write them down.  Any suggestions dear bloggers?  I would really love to hear from you.  Many thanks!

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This is one of the lessons I learned so well from the hillside, the place where I grew up.  My childhood home, my playground.

I will never be ashamed of my humble beginnings, I would not be who I am today if not for it.  I will always be proud of the place where I come from, my own place under the sun.  I bless this place.

My playground when I was little…

(photo source: http://www.panoramio.com/phot0)

I was born in a nipa hut at the foot of the historic Hill 120 in San Rafael, Dulag, Leyte in the 1970’s.  Before it came to be known as Hill 120, it was called as Bukid ni Anang by the local folks.  According to my father this is so because the hill is  part of the land which was owned by a great grandmother of his named Anang,   a matriach of the Caamic clan. 

My father was a son of a farmer, Baldomero Caamic Cabodil, who bought his farmlands by working as an apple picker in America and later became a member of the US Navy in the 1920’s. He saved his hard-earned dollars and in the 1930’s came home to buy his treasured land.  He then married the most beautiful lass in Dulag, the 14 year-old Trinidad Caimen. Together, they built a home and managed their farm.

I was told that they grew many crops including sugar cane and produced “kalamay” (not the sticky rice cake, but the hardened sugar) with their relatives and fellow barrio folks as workers. I heard some of them tell stories about how the Japanese and Americans soldiers loved the freshly boiled kalamay during World War II.  At least they shared something in common!

My father had always been proud of what he had made of the little piece of land his hard-working father handed down to him.  He loved to farm.

Our little bungalow used to be surrounded by mango, avocado, santol, jackfruit, papaya, banana, guava and cacao trees.  There were also those grown for their medicinal uses like the Banaba, Iba, and Libas trees we had.  Soter or Lemonsito trees also  lined the fence.  Nanay would sometimes joke, “Baga kita hin naukoy ha kagurangan” (“It feels like we live in the jungle”).  Tatay would just laugh as a reply.

And the backyard?  You can bet to find more plants.   It was complete with a nipa hut where Nanay wrote lessons plans and checked test papers.  And it was an epitome of the “Bahay Kubo” song.  We picked the vegetables and fruits we needed for the day and had them fresh from the backyard garden.

We always had an abundance of crops, vegetables and livestock.  We did not have much money but we always had food, good food.

Tatay was a farmer at heart.  He filled up my grade I enrolment form and wrote farmer as his occupation. It wasn’t until I was in Grade IV that I learned he was actually teaching in a state college in Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte.  I will always bless him and this humble home he lovingly built for us.

I visit this hallowed place on holidays and I get the chance to reminisce on how it was back when I was a child.  I mark the spots where we had our afternoon’s game of “Get In” (Patintero), “Bado-Bado” and “Sato”.  Most of these are now dwelling places of young newly-married couples who are either my relatives or related to the spouses of my cousins.

I smile when I see the barangay roads where we used to have bicycle races.  It is where I had my first big wound  and had my knees skinned  when I attempted to topple a coconut tree while learning how to ride a bike.

Then I turn my sight to the “Halublakan” (hollow block factory) across the street.  I look for the high piles of gravel and sand which served as our “slides” when we were kids.   We used to race going up these piles and slide down using coconut palms. And sometimes we would tumble down in a heap of arms, legs, sand and palms.

Remembering those times, I could almost taste the sand on my lips all over again.  I could feel its sting in my eyes and its gritty roughness on my neck, arms and legs.  I could hear the carefree laughter of those naive daring kids.  I could even see this dark boyish girl in blue shorts and white top tumbling down, picking herself up, and running up the sandy slope again.  That was me having a lot of fun!

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There is so much to do but there’s so much in my mind and heart that I just need to sit down and write first.  Otherwise my heart would burst from the weight of this “unnameable” thing inside of me.  This has to be put into words…and set free.

Let me start with last night…

Last night as I was sitting in the STEFTI Auditorium trying to listen to Fr. Gil’s formation lesson on the last Sacrament (Catholics have seven sacraments to go through or fulfill) a kaleidoscope of lifetime memories kept blurring my view of this saintly priest. As usual he was the Fr. Gil I know, so convinced of what he teaches which leaves one no choice but to believe him.

In spite of his passionate discussion of the Sacrament for the dying which used to be called “the Extreme Unction” (sounds frightening for me), my hands itched to write.  Maybe partly because I did not want to hear any of this for it reminds me of Nanay (Mother) in her last moments in the ICU being anointed by a priest.    The memory tears at my heart.

So I decided to write, anyway he’d  think I was simply taking notes of the lesson tonight.

In the subtlest of motions I could muster, I opened my purse and searched for my pen with my hands (my eyes had to be on Fr. Gil). I did find my pen (elation!) but my small notebook was not in there . And no loose sheets either(dismay!).

It was quite frustrating not to be able to jot down what was going on in my mind. I guess Fr. Gil prayed harder than usual for people to really focus on his formation lesson tonight.  So I did listen.  The writing task at hand, a homework!

I listened so well that I ended up queuing to receive the last Sacrament,  the Anointing of the Sick.  I was among the few “not so old”  people in line, the rest were elders  in the  community and the sickly ones.

I just had the Last Sacrament and Fr. Gil administered it!  I could not believe it!

He blessed me and invoked God to forgive all my sins (There are so many, oh God!) and by His loving mercy and grace be helped  and saved.  It actually happened this way:

The priest anointed my forehead and hands with the blessed oil,




Did I feel like dying already?  Oh no! It was a holy moment for me and it was beautiful!  I rose from the dead!  (I’ll write more about this in another post.)I felt more alive than ever!

I was forgiven.  Embraced by God.  Renewed.  Resurrected!

It was 9:30 at night, we had to eat dinner yet but I did not feel hungry.

We went downtown to buy Marlon’s medicines.

We got home at  10:00 in the evening and ate light dinner.

Oh the lessons from my childhood that I had to write? Still unwritten!

I went to bed and slept the sweetest sleep I had in a long long while.

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What I Learned from Bruce Lee..

10/30/12 7:40 a.m.

I am one of Bruce Lee’s fans even if I was not yet around during his stardom and that I was just a few months old when he died.  Well, his legend lives on as they say.

I am his fan not just because of his great karate moves or his incomparable strength which others have described to be almost epical.  I am his fan because I like his principle in fighting and in life:  “BE LIKE WATER, my friend…”  he used to say.  I never thought such a big hulking and almost haughty movie star would have such profound wisdom.

Be like water indeed!  Flowing.  Beautiful.  Life-giving.  Powerful!  Destructive?

And quite  true for all of us.  However, we have to decide what kind of water are we going to be.  Life-giving and life-sustaining or life-threatening because only deadly mosquitoes thrive there!

On  Writers

What makes writers different from others?

Simply this:  They bother to write what everybody else must have experienced and known.

-Belinda   9/28/11 10:20 a.m.

On Marriage

Couples can either grow together  or grow apart.  This is probably the reason why even couples who started very much in love eventually drift apart.

Marriage is continual falling in and out of love, a continual renewing of vows, a continual decision making of sticking it out no matter what, a continual accepting and forgiving… loving each  other and loving the other especially when the he/she is being his/her worst unlovable self.

-Belinda   9/28/11 10:30 a.m.

On Thoughts and Words

Sometimes we are not what we think we are;   (This is just our disproportionate or biased or twisted estimate of ourselves)

But one thing is sure, “WHAT WE THINK, WE ARE!” (The kind of thoughts one thinks is what he is!)

And the kind of thoughts one thinks manifests in his words and his treatment of others…

Indeed, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of!”

There are people who tend to speak ill of others and can be so mean almost everytime.  It is their high and the very essence of their lives!  (How pitiful!) Their day is not complete without finding faults in others  and even maligning them.  They feel elevated when they have put down somebody.

And they tend to say things (even in your face) meant to make you feel bad…They want to make you feel bad so you will feel the way they do – rotten on the inside!

I run as fast as I can from these people!  I also stay away from them not just because they can direct their deadly darts on me but more because I’m afraid to be infected by their virus (lol!).  I don’t want to gamble having what I’ve painstakingly cultivated in mind and spirit be touched by their meanness and wickedness.

And even when they’re directing their darts on others, I still run away…for this I have learned that people who backbite others in your presence will stab you hard in the back the moment you turn your own.

On People  

Whoever you are, wherever you go, whatever you do, however you look; people will always have something to say.  And whether it’s favorable to you or not, you have to learn to take things in stride and protect yourself from both flattery and denigration.  Learn to let these run down your big umbrella and never touch you.

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I went through my files last Saturday and I came across this letter I wrote almost five years ago.  I read it again and I couldn’t help but cry.  This time, I finally understood why I wrote this letter to Tatay even when I knew he’d never be able to read it.

I wrote this a month after he died.  During the wake and the funeral, I was so busy attending to the logistics that I did not really have the time to grieve and mourn his passing.  A month after when the rest of the family were slowly coming to terms with the loss, I was just starting to grieve.  And I grieved longer than they did.  So I wrote this as a way of coping and a sort of farewell to him as well.  

And now I’m sharing this with you all so I can let this letter soar and reach him wherever he may be.  Of course I know this is wishful thinking, so I guess I am rather hoping that someone can be touched by this letter and learn to forgive a seeming mistake a parent has done.  I also hope that this will inspire whoever reads it to appreciate and love his parents more while they’re still around.  

This is my tribute to Tatay and to all the fathers out there.  I salute you all!

August 11, 2007

Dearest Tatay,

       Wherever you are, I wish you could read my letter and know what I have always wanted to tell you. Now, I wonder why I could not tell you all this when you were here. Perhaps, it is because I was so afraid you’d scold me for showing my emotions and you might have seen it as a weakness. I know you’d scorn that for you really worked hard to toughen me, your weak and frail daughter. But even so, I really regret not taking my chances. Now, I am simply left wondering how you would have taken it, if you would have smiled and taken me in your arms, I would never know.

        I have many things to tell you that I don’t know where to begin. Maybe I’ll start with this: When I was a little girl, you were my superman. As long as you were around I knew nothing could go wrong. I even wrote a speech and delivered it in our International Toastmasters Club back in 2001 saying “Superman is for real, I know him personally, he is my greatest hero. He is my father.” And everybody just applauded.

       As a little girl, I always felt brave and strong when you were around. I slept soundly at night for you were there to keep me and the whole family safe. I even thought you never slept, for when I went to bed you were still up and awake, when I called your name for anything I needed in the middle of the night you were there ready to assist me, and when I woke up in the mornings, you had our food ready for breakfast and my warm bath was there waiting for me. You were and you will always be my superman.

       With your hands, you lovingly crafted my toys, for we could not afford those fancy ones sold in stores. But let me tell you that I valued those wooden yoyos and tops and the trucks and boats made out of old slippers and empty baby powder containers more than all the Barbie dolls and lego toys rich children played with. Those toys were simply bought with money which they had in abundance, mine were fashioned with love and so much attention which money can never buy.

       There was nothing you couldn’t do or handle. There was no wound you could not heal with herbs and the magic of your love. There was no trouble big enough for you to settle, in fact I have always been proud of you for people looked up to you for help and advice. You were ever kind and generous to others. I greatly admired you for that. You were a big man with a big heart.

       When I was a teenager, I have to confess, I hated you. Forgive me. I could not understand then….. I hated the way you treated me as if you never loved and trusted me. I hated it when you would accuse me that our activities in school were just my alibis to have fun with my friends and that I would end up having a boyfriend and would be married before I finish my studies. It hurt me so much, the way you made me pay for the crime my elder sister committed. I knew very well how devastated you were when she eloped with her boyfriend when she was about to graduate from college. I could see how down and beaten you were that I vowed never to disappoint you.

       But you never gave me the benefit of the doubt. I hated you more when you did not give me the chance to achieve my greatest dream. You knew how I worked hard in high school.  I graduated with honors and passed the UPCAT for I really wanted to study in UP Diliman. You doubted me all along, you never gave me the chance to go and study there and show you I was made of a different stuff. You broke my young heart and shattered my dreams. I wished, then, I had somebody else for a father.

       Oh, if you only talked with me, you would have known I never looked at boys. I never entertained their advances. Oh I had a crush, one or two, but they never knew. You would have known I laughed at the love letters I received, checked the grammar and threw them away. We could have even read those together and had fun  poring over the corny lines. If only you had given me the chance to let you know my thoughts, you would have saved yourself a lot of worries. You would have known I intended to let you hear my speech on Graduation Day, offer you not only my diploma but medals as well. But you never did.

       You did not give me a choice. If I didn’t take up Education then you would never let me go to college, that was your ultimatum! Oh how I hated you! To be a teacher was the last thing on my list. You told me to study in LIT, but my goodness, if I could not choose my course at least let me choose which college to attend. I disobeyed you, I enrolled in LSC. It was the only protest I could afford.

       For the first year, I went to that college and took my studies for granted. In fact, I intended to fail in all my subjects so you would be more disappointed. But something changed my perspective, I met people who were to be not only my greatly admired intelligent professors but also my great mentors. They actually showed me the nobility of teaching, tapped my potentials, and believed in what I can do. And then, I just soared high in college.

       When I received honors and awards, you simply ignored me, you never congratulated me or gave me a pat on my shoulder. You were always hard on me. When I gave you my Graduation Program, you even asked me why was I just a Cum Laude, I should have earned the Summa! Oh for goodness’ sake, no one was even a Magna! Besides, I graduated at the top of my class. But that was not enough for you… I hated you most then.

       After that, I knew I did some foolish things just to get at you, but you were as hard as granite. Later, though, I was to learn from your friends and colleagues that you have always been proud of me, I cried then, went home to you and made amends.

       When I became a parent, I understood a lot of things I used to question about how you were as a father. Everything just fell into place and I saw you in a different light. I felt so grateful that you were my father, but I never got the chance to tell you this. I am so sorry….

       In your quiet and simple ways you taught me many things which help me through the ups and downs of every day. Thank you so much.

       Thank you for teaching me not to be ashamed of manual labor, that my hands were not made for others to admire, but that they were made for WORK, real hard work.  That the truly beautiful hands are those that are gnarled and twisted with decent work; I learned that very well.

       When I look back now, I am truly grateful to have been blessed with a father like you. In my heart of hearts I will forever treasure you… Oh there were many things you didn’t do but you actually did more for me and my siblings.

       You didn’t build me a mansion, but you sheltered me in a home, though humble, abounded in love and laughter.

       You didn’t take me and my siblings to fancy restaurants, but you did lovingly cook and prepared great meals for us, I would not exchange those with any celebrated chef’s cooking.

       You didn’t buy me fancy clothes and accessories, oh I would have liked those very much, but you showed me that clothes do not make a man. You showed me that beauty does not depend on fashionable clothes and dazzling accessories; and that there’s a beauty that never fades –  the beauty of heart and spirit.

       You didn’t take me to movies but you watched spectacular sunsets with me and showed me the splendor of the dawn as the sun appears in the horizons.

       You didn’t take me to concerts but you entertained me with your old guitar and quaint songs on moonlit nights.

       You didn’t leave me millions, but you left me with countless beautiful childhood memories which millionaires may not even have.

       You did your best for me; you gave me all you possibly could as a father. Thank you so much!

       I still cry every time I think of you, you wouldn’t like that I know, but I just can’t help it. I miss you so much! And I know I shall continue to miss you and your reassuring presence all my life.

       I love you… I always have and I always will…

                                                                                                                                   Your daughter,


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Random Thoughts

I put away my pen for sometime and gave more of myself to my duties as a wife, mother, teacher and student.   I guess a part of me missed writing all this time, so here I am snatching a few minutes to jot down some insights I have had these past few months.

Wisdom has opened a piece of sky and shone some light into my otherwise mundane day-to-day life.  And what I’m about to share are realizations I have had and minute lessons of life I’ve learned lately.  They may not sound “big deal” to some but I feel I have to write them so they don’t crowd my small head (lol).

First in line is one real monster of a lesson:  People sacrifice health and family to pursue a perceived good – one might call it a dream or ambition.  And then what?

Of course, I know we all have to pay the price for whatever it is that we want to have but I’ve learned that to sacrifice my health and my family for it is pure and simple stupidity.   At the moment, I am pursuing my doctorate and at times the demands of my studies  coupled with work-related stress cost  me my health.  Now I understand that I am truly different from others in every sense of the word.  For one I’m a turtle and I actually feel it that when I rush things or when I push myself beyond the limits of my physical and emotional strength I get sick.   As in real sick  and I have to stuff my body with antibiotics, painkillers and other nauseating pills.  So I’ve learned to slow down and work in tune with the pace of my own energy.   Always “going placidly amidst the noise and the haste.”  No rushing and hashing whatsoever!

Next in line is this:  We have to live with the little ironies of life. 

Life dishes out little ironies now and then.  And most of the time we are caught unawares.  Whoa and what a ride I had learning this lesson!  I can say that after my futile attempts at righting the wrongs  in the name of idealism and religion, I’ve learned to accept their persistent presence in our lives with straight A’s.   Now I can just smile when one shows up on my plate.

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