What I’m waiting for the most, perhaps even wishing it in my subconscious, is the law on divorce. Divorce, in this country, and maybe in some others as well that remain closed even to the idea, has long been misunderstood as a Pandora’s box. Open it and all sorts of she-evils will fly out and contaminate the world. It’s BS. Like the story of the stork ingrained into us as children when we asked adults how babies got made or born.
For me, the most practical argument for divorce is that the right to enter into a contract, in this case, marriage, gives one the right to terminate or reform it when terms and conditions are not met; termination is applicable when, despite the steps taken to set things right, the effect of the contract on the parties is one of a weighty yoke. No person should be burdened by a contract.
The clergy would argue that marriage is more than just a “contract” or a piece of paper affixed with the signatures of bride and groom and their witnesses; that it is in essence a sacrament in that marriage is “to glorify God and to be a representation of how Christ loves the church.” Fine. And that is where the Church or rather the clergy has failed marriages today. They are increasingly more concerned at managing mainstream (meaning, anti-poor) businesses and school boards instead of attending to their primary mission which is to be like Christ who took the road less traveled where the poor and unwanted of the earth are. Administering sacraments to persons, whether the sick or the bride and groom, has become mechanical. The clergy has become so world-busy that they now also have no time to stop and chat with and get to know their sheep. In knowing their sheep are shepherds able to administer to each according to individual needs.
Where were they when families are falling apart or when marriages show cracks in their seemingly happy veneers? Selling organic food. My god. The clergy also has it all wrong now. The passage about “God will provide” means that families will be the ones that will support the clergy and the Church into the future as long as they are also supported in their spiritual needs. Because, how could a family that’s always fighting help back the Church and it’s clergy? It can’t as all it’s energies (and money) are spent in something else. I overheard churchgoers once saying “wala naman pinuputahan mga binibigay ng mga tao.” Churchgoers have already become sarcastic about adequately contributing financially to the Church because they don’t feel a spiritual connection with their priests and nuns. They are sheep without a shepherd.
What does it mean by marriage as glorification of God and representation of Christ in the church? Do modern married couples understand that? The few that do have I bet came to out of a lifelong struggle of experiences not necessarily with the individualized support of the clergy.
The Church is in a crisis and it’s effects on the Body, the families, are felt proportionally. The sacrament of marriage is entwined with the health of the Church that has facilitated and borne witness to the marriage. My point is, and this is for the clergy, that they stop pointing fingers at others in connection with this divorce law. Look at yourselves first, acknowledge your part in what you describe as the deterioration of society, bring order in the house, and society will follow.
On the other hand, the marriage contract, to be understood as distinct from matrimony, should not be forced upon the contracting parties when it is obvious that it is beyond repair or reform. This is where the State, not the Church, steps in with the duty to protect the right/freedom of persons entering into contracts. Those who counter that the law is bound to be abused are like people walking forward with their heads turned a hundred and eighty degrees back. They don’t know forward from backward. Look at the child protection law. It’s not that there suddenly was a flood of cases reported following the law, because these cases really did happen, many of these years before the enactment of the law, but rather the courts are lacking in appropriate response given inadequate personnel, not enough trained personnel including judges, irrelevant rules of court including design of courts supposedly friendly to children, and the like. It’s the justice system not the victim-survivors that renders the law ineffective and inefficient. Similarly unless there are preparations now let’s anticipate the same with the divorce law when passed.
In the meantime, we all want and cannot truly know life and happiness without true love. I wrote, recently, on the slip of paper that the nuns will read in their prayer and skip meals for, for true love. Finally. Yey. Ha ha. I should’ve explicitly asked for it a long, long time ago but as it is I didn’t. I was for a very long time ambiguous about love and relationships. Girls and young women my age were busy looking for and raving about the love of their lives. I was busy doing other things. Then life happened. But the universe remains kind. Recent happenings seem to propel me toward a life that has less to be fearful about and more reason to be grateful for, to love, and be loved. It struck me that such is the purpose of life: true love. But then our world is an imperfect world. For the majority, true love doesn’t come on a silver platter. The first time that we thought we’ve got it may not be it after all. Many times, success depends on circumstances. We all, for instance, cannot be Catherine and William because there is only one of either. We are called upon to chart our own unique lives. If and when we fall doing so, we get up every time. That’s the most important thing. For the State or the Church to keep the fallen down is like declaring death sentences on people who are otherwise still alive. Let the clergy deal with their own internal crisis on their own time if that’s what they feel like doing, but not on borrowed, that is, people’s time.
On a weekend in January the kids and I spent a night with an aunt at her farm where the main attraction is the huge nipa hut that occupies the center of the lot. I’ve been there once before so I was past the oohs and aahs. The kids did that though.
They wondered aloud how the rain wouldn’t get into the hut- “what if there’s a storm?” They squealed at how the foyer windows open with the use of a tungkod. The inside held no seats and so did their homework on the bamboo floor.
Meal times were an outdoor affair, around the table designed to host boodle fight-kind of meals.
The place is meant to be a resthouse away from the hustle and bustle of city life. My aunt is from Baguio City. She and her husband who’s originally from the community bought the property because they want to eventually retire in that environment – more sunshine, fresher air, land to till both for pleasure and daily food, maybe even develop it into a resort. They’re at the place on weekends in which time they work the land, basically, toward their dreams for the place.
It’s the trend apparently among Baguio City natives. One afternoon during a stroll around the community, my aunt introduced me to some of the residents. A couple, retirees from Baguio City, had bought their property planning to develop a portion into a boarding place. The community hosts a college (with elementary and high school) that has a considerable population of non-local enrolees and staff. The couple also has a spacious garden on the property where at the time the husband was clearing for replanting. “Dun sa amin sa Baguio, wala kaming lugar na mapagtamnan. At grabe na din pollution dun,” said the wife. That night, reflecting on what I heard I realized that people, out of instinct, will look for healthier places to live in. Is Baguio City starting to lose it?
the course is not always clear
the water is not always clear
the sky is not always clear
it is still —
a time for reflection
– Post-cards from 1995 by Ruth Weiss
Why xxx? asked my former boss. He was asking why I had relocated to where I did. I said something about me and the kids needing people that could and would protect us, at least for the forseeable future, and who’d those be but, and weirdly too, the kin of The One we fled from. Lately though having more time to think about things there seems more to ‘where‘ than just protection.
When I was a kid, my aunt who was then married a few years and still without a child wanted to adopt me. I was listening when she told mother this but mother didn’t want to hear of it so case closed. It however didn’t stop my aunt and uncle from being especially affectionate toward me which they had opportunities to do whenever I vacationed at my grandparents during summers. I have a photo of my preschool-aged self sitting on my uncle’s lap during one of their drinking sessions from before. But then we went abroad and then I grew up and life happened. As an adult, I rarely visited relatives or attended the few reunions at the old house. I was present at the wake of dead relatives but I went in, like, for a few hours or at most a day and then left like the devil.
Suddenly I now find myself 24/7 with my aunt and uncle! I only realized this recently at lunch with my uncle and my cousin’s partner. I was asking uncle about his experiences in the Arabian desert in his time with Aramco when the thought struck me.
Apparently I’m given a chance to get to know my could’ve-been adoptive parents up close and personal. They’re also getting to know me as well. They’re finally acting as my (foster) parents. How odd! Time is indeed sometimes very strange in it’s ways.
Over the holidays, a colleague told me, by way of, perhaps, mirroring the hard reality ahead, that I’m the only one behind the wheel for what seems like the long haul and so I needed to be strong. On the same vein, an aunt (everybody here is either an auntie or uncle!) said it’s the strong women who are given extra challenges in life to hurdle. At the time, my mental state was fuck strong.! I want to be weak. I am weak. Could I pass the wheel to another for maybe just a day?
In the development community, child development vision statements typically close with the phrase develop children to their full potential. I would like to emphasize here full potential; because that’s apparently what Ms. Korina Sanchez-Roxas has to an extent achieved with, well, the help of Belo Thermage.
But, beyond the treatment the message in there for me is that our goal in life is to work toward the realization of our full potential which won’t happen when we live our lives according to what others wish or think them to be.
Ms. Korina Sanchez, for example, as a long time broadcaster was shaped into the image the broadcast company thought best for her. As Mrs. Roxas however it seems she has relatively more say in further developing herself. It’s not that conforming to company rules was bad, it was doing that that she became a household face and name; it’s that attainment of full potential is a lifelong process. And I think for the radiant fifty-something Belo Thermage model her new physical self indicates an inner self that’s more confident and ready to fully embrace life. That inspires.
So is it really any wonder that you choose the paths seldom taken? It was all in the cards, the house of cards, the condemned tenements of cards in which you grew up. And now, now that all has fluttered down to the ground, upset by the swinging pendulum of a wrecking ball which may be only the brass counterweight of a grandfather clock, now that all the bricks and latthe and plaster and cards have fallen and burned along with the trash and pretzels, now that the ash has blown away, you can finally see. The smoke has cleared and there is room now for other dreams. Ashes to ashes, dusk to dusk.
And so time passes, passes by, passes over, passes away and through and pass the butter, please. Sometimes time passes by so fast…you can’t even see those seconds make their little streaks of reentry into your heart.
– Excerpt from Trainsong by Jan Kerouac
The Global South, because of poverty, gaping disparities, corruption, overpopulation, continues to be the object of international development. This post explores a bit about overpopulation. My recent observations and experience tell me it might have something to do with the heat. As in the tropical climate. How so?
I’m from a mountain city where annual temperature averages a relatively cool 26 Celsius although at this time of year it could dip to five Celsius or even lower. In other words, I’m quite sensitive to temperature changes. Where I relocated at least temporarily, the lowlands, is hot like the rest of the country. Early mornings since December are cooler but as the day progresses the temperature also rises reaching it’s peak at noon to three o’clock in the afternoon. In these hours one can go and stand on open ground and catch fire from just the sun. The indoors are not spared. Heat bouncing off warmed walls makes you sluggish which makes work and movement akin to swimming in a thick current of slush. It’s why lowland folks do siesta. I don’t nap hence I could be found maybe by the outhouse even doing the laundry, anything to resist inactivity caused by the heat.
The outhouse opens to a serene scenery of bright green field of corn now nearing harvest. The other day, I watched my uncle and his son irrigate the field. “Where do they get the water?” I asked my cousin’s partner. “They’ve got a well over there,” she said. “How do they water the field from just a well?” I asked. I was imagining them going through the rows of corn with, like, a pail of water. Ridiculous even to my mind, and of course it was. Padanum is pumping water from the well with the use of a machine and letting the water spread out, irrigate, the entire field. Apparently that took up an entire day. These “distractions” take my focus off my body’s reaction to the heat, which is, it constantly throbs everywhere. Imagine your body post-coitus. In the right mood and with the right stimulation, it’d take little to light you up again as you’ve already been primed in the right places. It’s like that.
Do other folks here feel this way as a result of what the heat – the climate – does to their moods and bodies? Is this, along with the tropical lifestyle that includes siestas, the trigger for a heightened mood toward coupling?
Whereas in the cool mountain city (and airconditioned offices and establishments in the country’s urban/metro regions), since my body isn’t battling with and weighed down by heat and it’s effects it’s freed up to do more economically-productive work ie. toward creative and innovative thoughts and products. Toward invention. Toward competition. Toward fueling the rat race.
Northern countries are, for a start, climatologically favored for development.
I am looking at my toes. In my sandals. Where I sit by an ancient redwood tree. To keep the chainsaw from cutting it down. And my toes tell me the story of the redwood. And about surviving.
– MY NAME IS WOMAN ANNA MARIE, Ruth Weiss
Rituals are crucial to survival, I learned a long time ago which I’m again learning about presently. One of mine, these days, is my daily morning bath or shower. You might say it’s inconsequential but there was a time, when I was younger and truly depressed, that I didn’t have the volition or desire to get up from bed. I’m past that state thank God although, perhaps, besides God, there are, now, also my significant others – my kids – to live and be responsible for. So, when recently life suddenly went off course, I feel and see depression hovering on the edges, on some days even venturing across, threatening, in which time, if only to scare it away, I jump up, into the shower, to do chores, basically, repetitious work (routines) consistently.
Shower time which I allot a full half is my only me time for the entire day. I focus on the smell of my hair, my body, my physical self, my personal hygiene. To reconnect with my self after a night fraught with worries and before another long day ahead. These things I have control of.
Control. That’s it. These little seemingly staid stuff – shower, chores – are aspects of our existence that remain constant that we have some degree of control over even when life has spun out of our control. It’s why they’re restorative ie. they give us, still, somehow, a sense of balance, significance, reason, even if just a teeny weeny bit, why we go on day after day…until before we know it we’ve had regained back full control of our lives.
Beyond myself, I observe such rituals in my immediate environment. My uncle is kind of semi invalid due to brain surgery as a result of a massive stroke ten years ago. My aunt and him have this early morning ritual before she goes off to look after their shop in town. She bathes him, puts on him their wedding ring sometimes also the gold bracelet she got for him in Japan (said my uncle when I asked him), feeds him a warm snack, then his medications and vitamins. The same thing every day (since I’ve been with them) despite my uncle not fully understanding because of his mental state. What is it they say about enduring love being manifest in routine? (On the side, growing up, I didn’t have such a model as template for relating with others, and now as I’m seeing it up close, though late in the day, I finally realized the difference, nuances, and significance of routine in relationships.)
One evening while I was cooking dinner, my cousin’s partner walked into my aunt’s kitchen in order to get frozen food from the fridge (they share it with my aunt) as she was also going to cook dinner with my cousin. My aunt who had just finished washing clothes came into the room as well. She looked at her daughter-in-law and said (in the vernacular), “you look like a Donya, Donya Buding. What’s with all those jewelry?” To which the daughter-in-law said, “Daggy (my cousin) likes that I wear them. I don’t know what’s with him but he won’t let me take them off.” To which my aunt said, “Unay en! You know, at the end of the day, you’re the one who will decide because you’re the one wearing them!” To which the daughter-in-law said, “Besides, I cannot put them on by myself after I’ve showered.” At this point I let out a peal of laughter which effectively momentarily stopped their strange repartee. In my head was the image of my cousin morphing into Fifty Shades darker— my cousin!?! Him as Grey tickled. So, he’s why my cousin’s partner is always in jewelry? I’m often left with her at my aunt’s and I too have wondered but daren’t asked about her use of jewelry even at breakfast. It’s all about the couple’s ritual, then. Haha!
I guess it’s when life throws you lemons, adapt to a life-changing ritual in return. Things will somehow if not sooner then later find their way back to the loop. We hope.
THREE-year window?! That’s according to predictions for my sun sign in the new year. Still, oh god. Or, should I instead say thank god?
This year is indeed ending with closures. Significant ones. Ones I’m forced to own and do. My only regret is I should’ve done them much earlier…when I was younger.
In the new year, I want to and will start giving chance for the right people and things to catch me.
On one of my early morning walks, I discovered a public park where I could in relative peace and comfort write or read up on things I’ve missed. Then I would head home afterward to resume household chores. That day, in fact, a week’s worth of laundry was impatiently waiting for me.
One morning I left my discovered corner by another route and came to a tennis court. Words on the wall read it’s home to the town’s tennis club. The following day, I took the same route and saw members playing. I dallied awhile to watch. Watching, I thought that I could, if I was in the mood, otherwise, politeness urges me to go and say hi. But, I wasn’t in the mood for sociable.
I played tennis on my senior year in high school with my then best friend, a table tennis player, during breaks from our volleyball practice. Also because our coach who encouraged us to take an alternative sport was also coaching the tennis team. But tennis wasn’t for me. I eventually took up short distance running as my second sport.
So anyway I enjoyed watching the morning game put on by the club members. A pleasant and helpful distraction. I even though that maybe it wasn’t too late to do tennis. In any case, player or not, did we know tennis has got quite a few parallel life lessons to teach?
My friend, Hani Al- Moliya, a young refugee from Syria who fled clutching his high school diploma and who is now studying in Canada said: Home is a place where I can find myself.
There are hundreds of ways of approaching the idea of home. But a lot of our thinking about home comes back to the idea of belonging. That place might be a country, or it might be a specific town, or a particular street, or a building on that street — even a room in that building. It might be a person or people — family or parents. Or it might be the magic mixture of people and place.
So if, at last, I was to come to some sort of definition of “home”, I would offer you this: Home is a place of compassionate community. It is a place where the act of compassion benefits the receiver but also enriches the giver.
– The Search for Home in Times of War and Peace, Melissa Fleming, UNHCR
Today, a Sunday, I think I now understand why God had to become human. I think it’s also to impart credibility to the words “I, God, understand”. For, in the limited confines of the human mind, only those who’ve experienced, say, human pain and suffering, truly understand those undergoing the same and so are able to respond appropriately to others. God-made-man understands the human situation. Seeking Him, the image that comes to my mind is Him in the dark Garden of Gethsemane sweating blood in anticipation of what was to come. Still, He prayed for strength, endurance, and faithfulness to tbat mysterious “home” as symbolized in the manger and it’s environs where this world first saw Him and the cross on which His earthly life ended. I earnestly pray today for the same strength, endurance, and faithfulness.