Doldrums

I am stressed out, but sometimes I feel like it is just futile to express it – complain about it. There is nobody else to talk to because everyone else seems to have a more weighty concern. To say the least, at the moment, the people of Marawi are certainly taking the brunt of all the Philippine troubles.
Yes, sometimes social media posts can relieve some burdens. Someone out there is ‘reading’, albeit maybe not meaning to. The good thing is that Joreb’s catechism class has been cancelled today. Bad news: I have a module due tonight and I am only halfway through it. Also: UWI grad school term has started again. Convent Prep exams are waiting to be written, or at least rewritten.
I am not a fool, though. What’s personal is personal. My complaints are about simple things – barely scratching the surface. I don’t think this is a good thing, though.

I Rarely Get Mad and It Just Happened to be in Public…

It’s a crazy Friday. I had a few mishaps earlier: I walked back to school, looking for something that turned out to be at home and I walked to the public library just to find out it is closed for the day because of an event.

anger

Then, the situation became worse when we went to shop. One guy was very disrespectful. He bumped my mother and was saying, “Look this Chine…” Then, he continued muttering. “All that shopping, chung chung chung”. So, when he came to me saying, “uh.uh.uh”, heavily implying I could not speak English and he must therefore grunt like a mute person while he pointed the product at me, I had to answer back. I got the gist of the gesture, though. It was a power play. He wanted to come before me because I am a foreigner who could not speak English. There were other counters, especially for someone who only had a couple of items. I had stepped aside for many other people before. However, my parents felt that I should not have behaved like that in public. There was no cursing involved. My “loud” voice probably would not even be considered loud by some. I was insulted, but I did not insult back.

What do you think Dominican friends? All I said was “If you had asked nicely, I would allow you to come before me, but you were rude.” Those who know me well or have at least had a talk with me a few times are aware that I am not the sort to pick a fight or make a scene. What’s worse: security at this supermarket laughed along with the rest of the crowd. Nobody came to say, “Oh I am sorry about that. The guy has some mental issues – (he certainly did not look like he had mental issues – maybe a drug problem or just had the awesome luck to be naturally rude). Well, that’s what the security said. Still, they should have at least whispered to us, “Oh he does not mean anything by that. He’s kooky” or they could have diffused the situation with a tap on the shoulder of just about anyone who was involved (me who was getting pale with anger, my husband who defended me but somehow added to the fuel, and the guy who just had to be there at that very moment and be his usual charming self).

Anyway, suffice it to say that I feel disappointment everywhere: from my calm dad, my mom who says she never makes a scene in public but who has a much hotter temper, and myself because I had to second guess myself.  I probably still would be more disappointed with myself if I had responded with, “uh, uh, uh”.

Aunts Cry Over Loss of a Child, Too

We do not just cry, but we weep.

Last Sunday morning, I woke up feeling disoriented. There was something different in the air. I remembered sleeping, worried, to the sound of the phone ringing and ringing and dad shuffling about the house. There was something wrong. In the wee hours of the morning, faint rings could also be heard by my half-asleep ears.

I do not know why, but I did not rush to the bathroom as I usually do. I went to the kitchen to see dad, standing by the dining table, back bent. He called my name and said that he wanted to tell me something. I knew what he meant before he said the words.

“Jordana is gone.” Then, he sobbed. I cried, too, but I also hugged my kind dad who never cried and never complained. My calm hero was crying, and I did not know if I should cry and cry or just be strong for him. I was caught in the middle of those two urges.

After more than two months of restless sleep after Jordana Belle came into the world too early on May 1st 2016, she left the world too early, too, on July 10th 2016. She made me celebrate my birthday first, on the 8th of July.

The family still went to church. We looked normal enough. The problem with this loss is that we could not even openly express it, the body of the child in question being thousands of miles away. Mom, who is visiting the Philippines since the first week of June,  can cry all day. My brother and my sister-in-law cried for their lost angel, of course. Their hearts are breaking the worst. Dad, on the other hand, did not want to tell anyone else. We carried our grief here in Dominica secretly.

I have to admit I am harboring resentments, too. I have close friends who have never given any words of comfort when Jordana was alive. So, I only informed those in my Facebook secret group. They were the ones who gave support every step of the way: blood donations, sharing of fundraising link, giving of funds, prayers and words of comfort. Some would definitely post hollow condolences. I do not want to see them. Where were they the last two months?

I kept on stopping myself from posting foul things. It does not seem fitting. I am the aunt of an angel, a beautiful perfect soul. I love her and would remember her all of my life.

 

 

Stabbed

Social media has taught me a lot lately.  I realized that when you asked for help on social media, it is equivalent to being stabbed in public. Your friends and family who are not there in the streets to see you get stabbed are excused. They did not know. How could they help? But how about the others who were able to read your post?

My fundraiser had several reactions on Facebook:

  • some immediately donated money from their pockets (they are like the ones who have cars and can drive you to the emergency room in no time)
  • some did not have extra money but made sure their concern is felt through PMs and other contributions (prayers, blood, messages of support, re-sharing of link) – they are like the ones who do not have vehicles themselves but are there to press on the wound while calling 911
  • some merely watched as I see group posts racking up “seen”, but I did not get a message from them (they are those who watch on the sidewalks, afraid that blood will be splattered on them)

It sounds slightly bitter, but I have to be brutally honest. Social media had shone a light on who my real friends are. Weirdly enough, a lot of those who offered their help (in words, cash, prayers, blood, etc.), were strangers. They had the right to turn their backs on me. The stabbing did not concern them. They do not know me, and yet they were able to say kind words. Some even took out money from their wallets. For all they know, this could all be a scam – this fundraiser for my 26 weeker niece. I could not blame them. In the streets, people worry about helping a stranger because it could be a ruse for a stickup. But friends, people who know you, they should be there. Right?

As a college student, I was extravagantly generous I would say. My dad is a doctor, after all, and he was also generous. He charges very little compared to other specialists. He worked free of charge several times when I was still little. He is a good example.

I once paid 3000 pesos to get a friend’s hair fixed. I lent 5000 pesos to a friend in need. I lent 1500 pesos to a student of mine. I never heard from him again. I never minded paying for my friends’ lunches whenever we went out because my tummy was too sensitive that I could no eat at carenderias. I guess I was hoping that karma would unleash something good for me. In the end, there are simply people who are good no matter what their circumstances are. The richest among my FB friends never contacted me. Friends who are struggling teachers, writers and artists are the ones who offered comfort in my time of need.

Because of my beautiful angel-niece, I learned a lot about friendship and appearances.

 

Broken Heart

I have had my heart broken before, but not with the same intensity in which it broke yesterday.

I had lost a romantic relationship. It hurt a lot. I was twenty two and thought that it was the worst thing ever. I drank wine for a week, and then I was back on track because I refused to ruin my life for someone who never deserved even a glance from me. Looking back, I believed it was more of the pain of humiliation that made it hurt. I am, after all, quiet but proud.

I had lost grandparents, both pairs of them. It was sad and yet peaceful. I never met my mother’s parents. My dad’s parents died in their nineties. They lived full lives.

Yesterday, however, was different. My little brother – who although only three years younger was like a first child to me – lost his little angel. 26 weeker Jordana Belle fought hard. She was in the NICU for more than 60 days. All she knew was the plastic case of an incubator and the pain of being prodded everyday. She had a little taste of her mommy’s breast milk. Her tongue usually slid out as if looking for more, but her feedings were interrupted by caution. After every feeding, her tummy bulged. Her intestines could not take too much feeding yet. Her liver was getting bigger. And everything was falling apart and a part of us knew it even weeks before, but we continued smiling and praying and hoping.

To make things worse, half of the family is in the Philippines: my brother, his wife, and our mom. My dad, my husband, my son, and I are here in Dominica, tens of thousands of miles away. Each one of us grieves. Even my son had to wipe tears furiously at mass, attempting a big boy stance. We grieve silently. Only the closest people know. I am sharing this because those who cared enough to read my past blogs – precious few – deserve to know what happened next.

Please include us in your prayers.

Please Continue Supporting My Niece

https://www.generosity.com/medical-fundraising/born-at-only-590-grams-jordana-fights-on/x/12153416

It’s hard to ask for financial assistance in the Philippines unless you are completely impoverished or well-connected (extremes, both of them). My family is well-educated but every penny is hard-earned. My dad and brother are both doctors. My dad started off as a generous doctor, who has a tendency to be charitable to his patients. It is good for the soul, but not for the pockets. Still, we all have no regrets. Helping is helping. Helping is good. This time, though, we are at the other end – we also need help. My brother is still a resident doctor in a government hospital. He had about more than 600,000 pesos in savings. He had to give them up in just five weeks to the hospital where his 26-weeker daughter is fighting to survive. NICU spending is no joke.

There are four ways to help:

  • donate funds via Generosity (see link above)
  • donate funds via my brother’s bank account number (for this you have to email me at belle07081981@yahoo.com)
  • share the link to your social network
  • pray to the God that you believe in. He has many names, but there is only one that we all look up to.

Thank you.

 

 

Teaching When There’s A lot on Your Mind…

So, I am not really a bundle of joy lately but at least I have children at school who make me smile. Of course, admittedly, there are also those who test me so much that I sometimes end up wondering if I could have handled things better. Teaching college/university is much easier. I taught using a projector using software (Maya, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator or whatever – yes I miss teaching them) that catch students’ attention on its own. I taught in an air-conditioned lab and janitors cleaned up after me. I miss laboratory room T407 where I used to practically live. Teaching primary school is very challenging in it being the fundamentals, the basics, and the stepping stone. I hope I can master it, because right now I don’t think I have yet. One has to be careful. I am almost 35 and I can still remember a teacher who said something to me in not so nice a way when I was 9.
teacher
I never dreamed of becoming a teacher in the first place(i had other dreams: journalist, nun, doctor, animator) but I ended up teaching university for three years and now teaching primary school for almost one school year. It must be destiny, and I hope I could make it worth the while not just for me but for those I am teaching.
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