Saturday, December 31, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

Writing the letter "S" for the first time was a trying experience for me when I was a kid. A test of patience. I was almost five years old then and I do not know why. My mom was a grade school teacher and she handled 4th graders. Because she wanted me to experience how school was, she would bring me along when she teach. Until one day,she decided to let me "sit in" on one of the 1st grade class, with the permission of the teacher of course,who happens to be an Aunt. That was how it was at our Public Elementary School then. Though I got to meet new friends and learned a few things, sing new songs,played new games, I really had a hard time writing my name. Good thing I had a seatmate who was very smart and kind enough to teach me how. She said,"imagine you are looking at the number "5"and if  you can write that number, just soften the edges and that will turn into an "S."

Made sense.

So I started writing the number "5" instead of the letter"S" then followed by the letters "arah."Finally, I got to finish the seat work given by my teacher and passed that sheet of paper with  my full name written on it. "5arah Mallari."

I was the last to leave the classroom.

Surprisingly, my first year in school was not really that bad. I had learned to handle schoolwork and artwork. Learned how to read,count and write. And yes...learned to write my name properly starting with the letter "S."I ended 4th place in my class and even  recited a poem entitled Paalam"(Goodbye in English") at the Schools ' Recognition Day. I thought I was chosen because my mom was a colleague but later found out that my teacher picked me because I memorized and delivered the poem better than the other kids.

Looking it all back, I  realized that perhaps, some things start bumpy at the beginning but that does not mean it will end the same. At times you end it with a blast. But wether you start it strong or just testing the waters, the experience and the people that you meet make it more memorable.

Five years ago, my kids and I rented a small room for us to stay. I chose it because the school where they go to is just 15 minutes away. I decided I do not want to worry that much when they leave the house and add that to the stress of being a single parent. We stayed there for five years and because the rent went up unreasonably, my kids and I decided to look somewhere else. And with the help of prayers,family and friends, we found one.A small unit,where we can start again,but this time,with so much positivity that our lives will be better than the one that we have left .

All in  a day's work
At work, where most of my productive hours are spent, a lot of hellos and goodbyes were also shared. Some moving to a different team, having a different schedule,and others just prefering to work to  a different company.

This year, a colleague who is also mother figure decided to retire due to health reasons. A former boss will be transferred to a different program and to a different floor, and my  current boss will now handle a different team. Not only that, our lob(line of business)which started with 20 agents, perhaps even  more last March are now down to 5. There  had been a lot of movement.

At times, one really had to grasp the reason why you are working, thinking twice if you still  have the motivation to continue. Searching, yearning for that inspiration you once had every time you head for work. Sadly, at the end of the day,you find yourself asking if you still love what you are doing.Some may have the freedom to say goodbye. Others, just like me,  will still ponder, and will say"why not wait a    little while."

The people that you worked  with, the time spent,conversations and laughter shared, consciously unconsciously sharing not just their knowledge but their selves as well,letting you glimpse in to their tupsy turvy world they call life, sometimes not asking"why?"but just simply understanding, even for a short while, will always be things that you look back that will ellicit a smile, each and every time you meet on the floor, at the pantry and perhaps on your way home.

Team Koni (Utilities Team) Christmas get together

Life may be short guys,but i thank  you all for dropping by.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Gift Never Forgotten

Whenever I ask my kids about gifts, I give them choices.That way I can be sure the gift bought will be within my budget and at least I have the time to prepare myself.

Like when I asked them "which gift do you prefer this coming Saturday? A trip to the mall or a new dvd player? " and the answer will be unanimous. "A new dvd player," when I thought it would be a trip to the mall.

When I ask them why, they would reply,"because a day in the mall is good for one day where as with a new dvd player we can watch all day."


I usually tell them they are still lucky because when I was a kid I never had the opportunity to choose. In fact, I never knew how to receive a gift until that day when my aunt (and godmother from CA) had sent me a small package. It was a Minnie Mouse wrist watch, 70's edition. It was also the first time I had a watch. And just like any other kid I was so curious how it worked. I was so interested watching Minnie Mouse's hands which moved endlessly wondering if it will ever stop. I even thought when it will stop because Minnie's hands never got tired of moving so I played with it.
Well, it looked exactly like this.
(image credit: Bradley Minnie Mouse)

 Clockwise, counterclockwise, clockwise, counterclockwise.

I would also listen to its tic tac sound, placing my wrist near my ear. I was just amazed and even hoped that Minnie's Mouse would turn as well. I enjoyed playing with my watch now turned into a toy. Until one day my dad noticed and told me that if I will not stop playing with Minnie's hands, she will grow tired and will not move anymore. Since I was just a kid then  I did not listen. Until one day the watch stopped working.

I never knew what happened with the watch after that. I might misplaced it or threw it away. I was too young too care.

When I had my own family, my kids and I would visit my mom and spend vacations at our old home. As a kid I was given the task to do the cleaning especially during weekends which I kind of miss when I started having kids. One day as I was tidying our old cabinets, something caught my eye that looked familiar. An old wrist watch with no bracelet, and Minnie Mouse's hands now gone as well.Turned out it was my old watch, my childhood gift that I turned into a toy. My dad must have kept it all these years because he treasure and keep things that matter to him, especially if it was a gift. Not only did he value the thought behind the gift but the memories that came with it. Since he had no means to buy me a Disney watch at that time, left alone any watch because we were very poor, he just left me play with it, letting me enjoy my curiosity as a kid hoping that one day I would remember.

In which  I did.

Now that I have kids and have long learned the value of giving, it dawned to me how precious that wrist watch had been. Not only had I learned that it became a collector's item which I never thought at that time but I realized that finding that watch again made it timeless. What more it made me look back that happy thought knowing there will always be a kind soul in my life who will always remember me when it comes to giving gifts. It was a childhood memory that always warmed my heart that I decided to share it with my kids.

I still have that watch.Though my dad had been gone for 24 years, my aunt still lives in CA together with my uncle who is my dad's younger brother. My aunt still remembers me especially during Christmas. And every time she sends me a gift, there will always be her handwriting which I recall vividly just like when I was a kid. Such memory always brings a smile on my face because after all these years she remembered me still. Just like the old Minnie Mouse wrist watch  that I have kept,  and  will never be forgotten.

(This post was first written December of 2011. My Aunt Afric and godmother  had crossed over due to liver cancer last August 31, 2012  peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by the people who loved her. Though it was sad that I never got to see or talk to her before she left, I am glad I was able to write a story of her kindness and generosity. She was indeed an angel, a fairy godmother sent from heaven .)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Laughter Prone Kids (And Everything In Between)

My mom often tells me that perhaps my kids and I should live in the mountains, free of neighbors except for Mother Nature who will always understand the noise my kids create everyday which she added "might be too much for the human ear to handle. "

Every time  my mom says this, I feel like I am raising monkeys that have been trapped in the zoo for a long time and are dying to get back to the jungle. Sort of the Madagascar characters which my kids enjoy watching. Perhaps they can relate or perhaps they just simply laugh easily. Not that we do not talk about serious stuff like school, saving money and staying healthy. Nor do they get undisciplined each time they cross the line, does not do their assigned tasks or act too smart for their age. Like any ordinary family, my kids and I go through with the same struggles and triumphs. Being a single parent and having 7 minions to raise is tough work to the 7th power. One will easily loose her sanity by just thinking what meal needs to be prepared that will fit the budget and look delectable still. Or by keeping yourself healthy while three of your kids have the flu, worst one of them is confined in the hospital. Or just by simply having the time to take a shower, comb your hair and grab a bite before you head to work. Crazy as it may sound but at times it would help if one remembers to breathe in between before  getting caught up again and overwhelmed by this daily routine.

Life itself is already crazy as it is. Stress can be easily displayed if you are burn out by a lot of things which can make you flare up by just a simple task not properly done. And the first people that takes the heat are the ones we care about. Sadly these are our families, our children, our friends. And since  kids live what they see, it would be helpful if we  can learn to channel this positively, though it may be hard at first. And learning how to laugh, even though for a short time really helps. Laughter is free, uncomplicated and never gets old. It  not just makes you look and feel young, sometimes it makes you think that this world is not as tough as it may seem.

So if you happen to hear some kids laughing like it seems there's no tomorrow, do not hesitate to hear them out a second time. Perhaps you might even care to join in and eventually found out why.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

For The Love Of The Game

 "Mallari had 10 stitches on his eye but he is back."Matapang si Mallari."(Mallari was very brave). This was  commented by one of the anchor persons at the Big Chill Superchargers-Freego Jeans game at the Adamson University last December 1st, Thursday. My daughter Kyle and I arrived late and the gymnasium was already packed. Adamson University is home to the Freego jeans team. But no matter,we were there to watch Alex Mallari play again.

My dad once said that last names are words that have meanings. Like the names  Smith, Black, Turner and Doe. The name Mallari is a Pampango word (from Pampanga, one of the provinces in the Philippines)which means "probably" or" it can happen"(pwede in Tagalog). In a way it is a positive thing, if you ask me. I happen to be a  Mallari as well.

But Alex's story is different. A lot of people especially his fans which are increasing every day do not know that he is originally from California. Though his Dad was born in the Philippines, he grew up in California as well. It was his Grandpa  who grew up in the Philippines, who is my Dad's younger brother. And the last time he visited the country was a few months before my dad passed away. That was in  May of 1987 and never returned after that.

So how come a Californian who used to be an MVP preferred to play in the Phillippine Basketball Association Developmental League instead? That I still need to find out. Whatever his reasons were, will go back to what the anchorman said. It was very brave of him to leave the US and try his luck here. Perhaps one can not even consider it as luck.The first time my kids and I watched him on television we knew why he became  an MVP. He plays clean. Unlike other players who will resort to elbowing and even tackling just to steal the ball, with Alex it is just pure skill and speed. Making him left handed even added to that charm which I only noticed while watching  one of his games. And every time that I do, I not only feel a sense of pride because he is my nephew but a sense of respect, for the choices that he made and the dream  he wants to achieve... all for the love of the game.
Credits to Bigchill Superchargers Official Facebook Fanpage for the images.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Through Thick and Thin

"Tell your mom thanks for not coming over" and for asking when will be the next get together early." my friend told my daughter . The message obviously coupled with sarcasm solicited a chuckle because I have a reputation  for being a kill joy.

Most of my classmates and friends are in the province .I am now based in the city where I work.  I only visit my mom during special occasions and good thing she understands. Earning a living had become my utmost priority. I rarely go out because that would entail spending  and lessening my quality time spent with my kids so  I only get updated when I visit facebook and saw that my friends had a get together and which  I would comment," Great, am not there again."

My friends had gotten used of my absence.When we had our first high school reunion after 25 years, I visited my  friend, Mira  who became a neighbor when we moved. She called me a vampire of some sort because it seems that 8:30 in the evening is a bit early to visit one's  friend. I  have gotten used to my nocturnal lifestyle due to  my work schedules that I  have forgotten I was in the province where most people have normal lifestyles. I told her to call our friend, Fides  so we can hang out which she unwillingly obliged. She called our common friend, even adding  that perhaps I really had become a vampire, and when she handed me the phone, our friend could not believe it was me. It was after all more than ten years that we talked the last time. She even asked if it was really me. In between laughs  I told her we are going to her place in ten  minutes and since I was telling her the truth, she has to serve the leche flan that she had prepared. Now how did i know she made one? Well I  just did. In less than ten  minutes we were there, eating the sumptuous leche flan and listening to their  colorful stories about their marriages, work and colleagues.  I just simply listen though I  shared some stories, still no one can beat these two, even then. What more, Fides gave us  giveaways and her gift I kept hanging at our front door since then.

I have to admit there were times I have lost touch with most of my friends. These were the years that I was unemployed, and was busy taking care of the kids. Perhaps I was ashamed of the life I had chosen then and decided to hide myself from any connection. When my marriage did not work out, these classmates and friends were the same people who helped me stayed sane, who told me to move on with my life. Bit by bit, I started to engage in direct selling.  I would  sell my products to them and coupled with stories and laughter in between was enough to forget my pain then. When I decided to work again, I  also thought of loosing tract of our friendships but at that time, I was focused  on earning a living to provide for my kids.

In a way , I knew they understood. Years have taught us that our priorities had changed but not the way we took care of each other. It may have been seldom that we have been together, and that absence was mostly on my part,  but the concern and thoughtfulness had grown over the years. And that  I have always been  grateful,  to all of them,  though I rarely had the time to tell.

So guys, when will be the next get together?

Update me ok.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Touched by an Angel

I  always knew that I am an artist. I may have known even then but chose to ignore it. I even grew up thinking that having very few playmates was okay. My dad, who  happened to be a gifted musician was very choosy with my playmates. They have to be either relatives or somebody who at least come from respectable families. And when you say respectable, these are the non gossipers, create a scene drinkers, gamblers and social climbers. Our neighborhood was an ordinary one. We have our share of gossipers in the family, envious crab minded people, who had been jealous of us just simply because. Looking back I found that  quite  funny, mixed with  sadness and gratefulness because it  had shaped me and of how I chose to live my life today.

During family gatherings, we have our usual kissing of hands, being introduced to our  relatives who just came from abroad or who reside in Manila. But I will always find myself alone in a corner reading a book. I would literally look for one and take it all the way home with my dad and cousin's permission given. Never have I thought that having few playmates or preferring to be on my own would affect me until now.

My kids grew up having few playmates because they cannot stand cheating when it comes to games. It may be kidstuff but to them that means a lot. And I respect that. Integrity does begins at home and so do politics, bribery and corruption. I was brought that way  and so where my kids . They do not cheat, hate cheaters, and have a reputation for that. And the good thing about that was   they do not care, even if that would mean they will have very few friends or even none at all. I have to admit its' hard. In my line of work where majority of agents would do everything to do fraud so they can earn a bonus, I would at times re think if I am still doing the right thing. If staying in the company that help me built my character was still worth it.

It took me less than 24 hours to recognize that artist in me that I have ignored for many years in exchange for earning an above minimum wage for the sake of my kids. I auditioned for a well known game show where I met a woman who turned out to be an artist and a blogger as well. We talked  about a lot of things. Surprisingly our conversation made me forget that I have not slept for more than 20 hours and that my feet were already killing me. I even felt  like a kid pouring my self into every story that I told her . I became to understand a lot of things about myself  and why marriage did not work.  In less than a day I had opened my heart to a stranger which does not happen everyday. With so many stories shared, she fearlessly told me to write again. I immediately expressed my hesitancy. I am not after all a writer and it had been more than twelve years. Without blinking , she added that as beginners, one does not write  to have an audience. One writes to express who she really is.

That was the first and last time I saw her, We now only get in touch online which is not that often. With every post that I write comes the knowledge that she had and will be an inspiration.  She had seen a part of me that I thought was gone , forgotten even , but she was able to regained that dormant artist by simply being herself.