Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wearing My Gray Hair Proud (And Getting Away with It) | Authspot

I was talking to a friend the other day and shared our stories about writing online. She used to  blog but had stopped due to time constraints and other personal reasons. She advised me though to spread my wings, adding that opportunities are endless if I put my heart into it. She mentioned some sites  like Readers Digest Asia, Yahoo, Hallmark and Triond. It is a great venue to harness one's writing skills and meet other writers as well. Since I felt there was nothing to loose, I visited these sites and registered.

I already submitted one of my articles at Readers Digest Asia a few months ago  and I am still waiting, positively hoping that my article will get published one of these days. I just registered at Triond over the weekend and wrote one post. I got an email this morning that it was already published.

As always, the heart of every post is being real. But having one's stories read and told, no matter how ordinary it was becomes such an extraordinary experience.

I again, just want to share it with you.

Wearing My Gray Hair Proud (And Getting Away with It) | Authspot

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Precious Moments with Mom

                                           (image credits to facebook.com)

Just arrived from Manila to celebrate Mother's day with my mom. I never had the chance to change clothes as I was so eager to share  my stories which she took in every word I said. In her hands were my gifts, a Maybelline pressed powder and an embroidered blouse which she liked the minute she saw it. In the bacground were my four daughters whom she helped me raised including the one behind the camera who is my eldest .

Rare moments that I will forever cherish because they are priceless.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why I Ran for Intergity

When one of the Unit Managers' on the floor announced that there will be a Fun Run and that the first 300 registrants will be for free, I did not think twice about it. I took advantage of it and signed up at the drop of a hat. When I learned that it was not just  Convergys wide, that got me into thinking that perhaps I will not be as lucky.

When I started working as a call center agent, my active life as a stay at home mom  of seven went sedentary. For seven and a half  hours, five days a week, I sat in front of the computer, took in calls and typed. It was a routinary job, boring for some, health hazard for many. Since it was my main source of income, I did what every mom needed to do. Stay and learn to love what used to be a very taxing job. Through the years the hard work had paid off, well sort of financially. And with the confidence and independence, I  learned that there were still worlds I need to discover as well as opportunities  on how to learn and earn more.

 I also realized that getting fit had become a rarity, as far as time and attention was concerned.Though I did not  gain that much, there were days that I felt I could have been more active. So I just get by with   brisk walking and taking the stairs when the elevator or escalator  was not working. The last time the company had a  sports event was two years ago where I joined the hip hop class. I also had the chance to wall climb. Though the hand-me-down Reebok shoes from my nephew were  a bit old, they helped me a lot to gain my footing. Luckily I did not fell from the wall and finished it with flying colors which was not too  bad for a first timer.

Warming up with picture shots before we hit the tracks

I said to myself then that such experience deserved not just a second try. Each time the company gave surveys I usually point out to have more sports activities that agents can take advantage of. I was not really surprised when a Fun Run was announced.

A few weeks after the registration, I saw my name on the list of 3K runners. What more, most of my friends were there as well. I should be thankful, problem was I did not have any running gear. Since I did not want to have the registration fee deducted from my payroll in case I changed my mind, though it was a free one, I might as well have myself prepared and buy me a new pair of running shoes. I asked around which brand would be the best, but the experience I had with the last pair of shoes I used at that sports event two years ago  keep coming back. Good thing my memory was still sharp, and that's when I remembered the brand. "Reebok, " and off I went to the warehouse store so I can get a discount. I asked the salesperson what I needed. I added it will be my first time to join a Fun Run and plan to used the shoes for wall climbing in the future. I gave him the impression that I want to get my money's worth since I plan to use it for a long time.

Honesty went  a long way. He gave me options, and finally I found what I wanted. He gave a short laugh when I told him there was no need to wrap it properly as I plan to use it immediately so I can get the feel of them.  I was excited to wear my new shoes and that's what I just did. This was a  day before  the Fun Run.

That evening I tried to get as much sleep. The Assembly time was at 4:30 in the morning. I left home at 3:45 am to meet my friends at the office. Upon arriving, I went to the locker room, left my belongings except my ID and  phone, grab a light breakfast and went off to see my friends. We were  excited as we head to Bonifacio Global City.

Nobody could miss the event place. There were lots of people  heading in  one direction. Though it was still dusk, I got swayed to have my picture taken at the photo booth. Besides it was free. And that was not just the free photos I got that day. Since I am the most senior in age among the group, they cannot help but notice at the skimpy shorts I wore. I told them I am more comfortable running wearing them. Besides, at my age I felt I did not have to explain every move or gear I  wore whenever I want to.

Before the Run starts

In a few minutes, the race was about to start. The crowd was enormous. There were local and foreign press even who took our pictures.There were  Managers of different Convergys' sites, clients, even local personalities. Some parents also had their kids joined, even in strollers.  I can no longer contain my excitement. The race  started with the 15K runners, next was the 10K counterparts, then the 5K registrants . Finally it was our batch.With every countdown, there was a roar of acknowledgment from the crowd. And with every roar, my  heart skipped a beat,  until the gun shot signaled the start of the race. And off we went . There were lots of runners that I could hardly move. I told my friends, in between breaths  that I'll take my own route, and ran away as fast as I could.

I have not been running for  a very long time. I cannot even remember when was the last time. But on that day, I felt like a kid again, without a care in the world and who just wanted to finish the race. Every time I slow down, with sweat sticking on my skin, to the point of tasting it, I got a different kind of high. Such adrenalin I never thought I had. The volunteers who guided the runners where to go, the traffic enforcers who made sure the race will not be interrupted, even the water supply for runners, filled in glasses , ready to drink in a hurry, all added to the color of the event. I also found out  that my 3k run was short lived after finishing ahead of my friends. I realized  that I want some more. And that brought a smile to my lips.

Skimpy shorts and Reebok blend well with me 
I finished the race in 30 minutes, but that's only based from my calculations. I did not care less if it  took longer than that. What mattered was  I finished what I had started. As I  searched for my friends who just arrived from the race I went ahead to meet them with  that proud smile in my eyes.

Still looking great after the race with UM Alex  and my friends 

Not bad for my first Fun Run. Not bad at all.

(images credit to facebook.com)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Call Me " Beautiful " ( A Tribute To An Old Friend )

I have often heard that  beauty is in the eye of  the beholder.  I am not sure though if that was said in half truth. As a young kid I had learned that beauty comes in different packages. At times even in the strangest ones. And being that young sometimes make it confusing even laughable for that matter. Good thing it was not only me who shared that feeling at that time.

My only sister, Xenia had always been inquisitive and verbal on things that she found odd, sometimes to the point of getting into trouble. Some people may find that cute while others would rather have told her to mind her own business. But one rarely discourages a kid's curiosity and stubbornness, especially if one encounters it almost every day.

My sister and I had lived the first six years of our school life with my mom and her colleagues. Since we were surrounded by adults after school we cannot help but notice and learn a lot of small talk about teaching and every thing in between. Funny, my sister and I kind of enjoy hearing (and learning) school gossip with our naive ears. And with all kinds of topics and personalities that have been talked about, one person caught my sister's attention. So much that she had the nerve to ask my mom this question.

"Mom, is she a male or a female?"

My mom was not able to contain her laughter upon hearing this. My sister was referring to the big boned woman who often wore pants when she should be wearing skirts for their school uniforms. (This was in the 70's when women teachers were required to wear blouses and skirts for their uniforms). She did kind of look "odd" not just because she dressed up differently. There was something about her that my sister and I cannot understand at that time.

And my sister just got more annoyed with my mom's answer.

"What do you think?" I think she even added, "You may want to ask that question yourself."

So the next day after school when most of my mom's colleagues were about to head for home, my mom told the story. What more the big boned woman whom my sister referred was there. And to my sister's surprise, the big boned woman took her hand and squatted so she can be at eye level with my sister. Then she said,

"My name is Sada." "Starting today, you can call me "beautiful."

Ellen DeGeneres, A beautiful person inside and out  
(image credits to people. com )

I almost laughed when she said that. Not just because of my sister's reaction but because judging from what I understand the word "beautiful " then, Ms Sada will in no way fit such description. Not that I am being rude. When I heard the others laughed I knew we shared the same opinion. Almost all of them told us that Ms Sada was lying. That she should not let us misuse or abuse the word considering that we were kids. And that made it all confusing which elicited more laughter from the group.

So from then on, my sister had a new found friend whom she was obliged to call, "Ms Sada, the beautiful."But that did not stop her asking my mom again.

"Why does she wear pants? She is a woman right?"

It turned out that  Ms Sada who was also a teacher happened to be a lesbian. She requested to be transferred to the same school where her object of affection was assigned, who was mom's friend. They were actually befriending my mom so Ms Sada can get to know her more. She did not care if that will put her work at risk because they were in the school premises. A woman to woman relationship at that time was still considered taboo.

Well, to me and my sister it was not only taboo but also confusing. I have to admit I was kind of aloof when I learned about that.Somehow that did not lessen my respect for teachers. Perhaps because they were authority figures or I was just too busy studying, even too young to care .

Until one day when my dad left me and my siblings to buy some materials for the house repairs, we were surprised to get a visitor. It was Ms Sada and when she learned that she was in the right house, she welcomed herself in like it was her home. She always exuded that authority figure which made me more aloof. She asked where my dad was and after telling her where he went, lighted a cigarette and started to smoke. I also noticed that she walk, time to time, as if she was trying to relax herself. Odd even that she did not oblige my sister to call her "beautiful," which had become a greeting of some sort when they were in school.

When my dad arrived, I told him we have a visitor. Ms Sada introduced herself and without further
introductions explained the reasonwhy she was there.

"We rushed your wife to the hospital. She was bleeding. I think she had a miscarriage. Sofia is with her."

So mom's friend  ultimately became Ms Sada's girlfriend. She had won her heart and trust including my mom's, despite how unconventional their relationship was.

My dad, upon hearing my mom's condition excused himself, saying he just need to change clothes. But what Ms Sada did next surprised me and my siblings even more. She entered the room and barged in while my dad was in the process of changing. My dad did not know how to react with this sudden invasion of his privacy.

"Please hurry," she said, "she had lost a lot of blood. " 

My dad did hurry not only because a woman was watching him dress up but because of my mom's predicament. After telling me to watch over my siblings and that he will be back in a short while, he and Ms Sada had left.

Years had passed and all of us had grown and out grown a lot of things.The last time I saw Ms Sada was at  Xenia's wedding when she requested to have her picture taken with the newly weds. She was still with Ms Sofia. 

My mom and I  still talk about the two of them. The last time I've heard was that Ms Sada had been in and out of the hospital where the findings had not been good. Finally she told me that Ms Sada had cancer, that Ms Sofia is still there to take care of her and that they were still together.

I could not help but feel sad about what I have learned.The big boned woman who insisted on being called "beautiful,"had been the center of laughter and had stunned society because of her
unconventionalism had been a good friend to my mom. And after all this time, I still can not figure why she came to accept that even then. So I asked her why she did not disagree with their relationship at that time. I even pointed out that she was and still is a conservative person, yet  became Ms Sada's friend.

She told me that Ms Sada had a heart of gold. That she was not just  fun to be with but was  also easy to get along.She may had chosen a life that was less traveled, one that elicited a lot of small talk because she had followed her heart, but my mom really cannot find fault in that. Besides they were both single. And since both of them  loved teaching they made sure  their relationship will not get in the way when they work. My mom can still recall that day when she almost bled to death because of her miscarriage and Ms Sada together Ms Sofia were there to help her.

"You still remember that, do you?" she asked.

I told her I still do.

And I'm glad I asked. 

(I visited my hometown and spent Mother's Day with my mom and seven kids. Mom  told me  that her good friend Ms. Sofia, had crossed over last March . Ms Sada, though very ill is still alive . Though it tears me so much to visit and see her condition, I  just chose to repost their story on friendship and undying love. )