Thursday, August 26, 2010

PAGBABAGO

Mama was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in August of 2005. Since then, our family, my brother and I, particularly, have been knocking ourselves out, trying to make sense of what pseudo-sympathizers call “rich man’s disease,” looking for doctors (now Mama has five-a neurologist, a psychiatrist, an internist, an ophthalmologist, and a rehab doctor), caregivers (struck out seven times already), funds (no weekends for my brother and me), and answers (???). PD is already a big bad force to reckon with, but Mama’s recurring depression, brought on by a childhood of isolation and self-doubt, and by consecutive family tragedies (the passing of Daddy and her older sister), is the whammy that’s most difficult to challenge.

From Blogger Pictures
Christmas 2007: Mama could still smile into the camera

From Blogger Pictures
New Year's Day 2010: Mama sees less...

From Blogger Pictures
...But still has a healthy appetite!

There are happy changes, though. The trembling, drooling and choking are now a distant memory. Her voice is now audible, her speech patterns, less garbled and repetitive. Despite her confinement to a wheelchair, she regularly shoots hoops, sings Frank Sinatra songs from memory, and when her vision was still unimpaired, beat us all at Scrabble and watched her favourite WWE wrestler, Triple H, in action. Her once-69 pound frame must have doubled in the last 36 months, thanks to a steady, physician-approved diet of wheat bread, chocolate cereal, milk, white meat, rice, mixed vegetables, papaya and pears. But her absolute, hands-down favourite is the Goldilocks Crema de Fruta, and everybody knows it, as visitors never fail to visit her without the familiar festive fruit toppings and luscious cream filling nestled inside the unassuming brown box. Needless to say, if no visitors happen to drop by within the week, I am more than delighted to present her with her favourite Goldilocks dessert myself.

What makes her Crema de Fruta experience extra-special is the fact that she simply has to put a slice on her tongue, and her mouth , through all that chewing, will curve up in a smile. Then she’ll say, “Crema de Fruta!” And I’d say, “Mama, you’re psychic! Or your taste buds are just super active!” The truth is, she’s half-blind from glaucoma, and could no longer see what she’s eating. So it is my pleasure to spoon-or-fork feed her until that big fluffy chunk of Crema de Fruta is all gone from her saucer.

For our family, living with a loved one totally dependent on others, changes are not really major breakthroughs, but small yet significant steps that each one must take in order to get through the day. Sometimes, change is beyond one’s control; it just happens, and you have to live with it, or overcome it. But the change that I am most familiar with is the change that is based on personal choice. Many people have suggested that we bring our mom to a hospice, or that I go abroad so I could afford a private nurse for her. But those are not my choices. I choose to be physically present and actively involved in my mom’s life, no matter how back-breaking it is. I choose to bathe her myself, to shop for her clothes, to personally talk to her doctors. Mama’s chronic and incurable condition has changed my personal lifestyle, turning me into a homebody, and—I’m happy to note—a prolific blogger.

Sure, I work 8 hours a day, and the pressures of being a school administrator linger with me at the end of the day, but coming home with a Goldilocks Crema de Fruta, knowing my mom is waiting excitedly for me, and the Crema de Fruta, of course, makes everything worthwhile.

Monday, August 23, 2010

GET ON THE BUS

I'm no fan of beauty pageants, but I sincerely hope that Venus Raj wins Miss U tomorrow (August 24 in Manila). We need a FEEL-GOOD moment after that Manila Bus Hostage tragedy, and all those other bus-related tragedies (Benguet, CamSur) in the last few days.

Everyone's been focusing on the tragedies, and with good reason. From faulty brakes to reportedly drug-boosted drivers, from 42 dead in Benguet, to a former beauty titlist dead in Cam Sur--all in a week's span--this series of disgustingly unfortunate but avoidable events are a glaring reminder of what this country has become: transportation hell.

Of course, the Quirino Grandstand fiasco had nothing to do with faulty brakes and drivers on a high. The world watched in horror as it showcased a disgruntled former policeman with a mission, get his job and benefits back, by calling the Ombudsman's attention with 22 hostages onboard a Chinese tourist bus. Naturally, GMA and ABS-CBN were there to get the grisly details on the 6:30 news. ABS wins the "Most Insensitive, Sensational Award", in my book, for training their cameras on the bloodied bodies of tourists on stretchers, some of whom the reporter blithely identified as already dead. There was even a shot of Dinky Soliman giggling like a schoolgirl as cabinet officials and medical spokespersons got ready for their press conference. I have never seen such blood-curdling television since Face to Face.

There was a lot to be ashamed of as the crisis segued into the night. I won't go into all those serious and not-so-serious feedbacks flying all over twitter and facebook all night. I will not go on the defensive, begging the international community not to judge us Filipinos for one man's actions. C'mon. The late Senior Inspector Mendoza WAS one of us. Frustrated, out-of-control, misunderstood. Hate him on facebook, we hate ourselves. He represented the worst in all of us, so we should rightfully be ashamed.

P-Noy has apologized to the Chinese government for what happened. HongKong has issued a total travel ban to the Philippines. A facebook friend warns, "Kawawang Singson sa HongKong".

Me, I'm going to root for Venus Raj, who lost a friend and probably a couple thousand text votes tonight.

Friday, August 6, 2010

FROM WANG-WANG TO KAWAWANG SHUTTLE DRIVERS AND OPERATORS

[Someone close to me is greatly affected by the recent MMDA anti-colorum drive. I'd just like to express his sentiments, which I think are valid and need careful creative rethinking by PNoy and his team of blue boys.]

Ang kolorum na AUV (aka FX o shuttle) nga ba ang dahilan ng trapiko sa Metro Manila? Nasan ang datos nyo? Natanong nyo ba ang mga taga PLM,PNU, La Salle, PWU, St Paul, Manila Doctors at mga call center employees na araw-araw sumasakay dito kung gaano nila naapreciate ang presence ng mga tulad namin lalo na sa gabi at madaling araw, at wala na silang masakyan?

Alam nyo po ba kung bakit maraming kolorum na bumabyahe? Kasi po napakamahal ng prangkisa, hindi makatarungan ang presyo. Sa laki, kailangang ipangutang pa! Marami po kaming umaasa (drayber, may-ari ng sasakyan) sa kita ng byahe ng tinatawag nyong "kolorum", pambili ng pagkain sa pang-araw-araw, pambaon sa skwela, pambayad sa ubod ng taas na singil ng kuryente. Marami ring mga nagtatrabaho, nag-oopisina, mga mag-aaral ng kolehiyo na araw-araw, rain or shine, pumipila sa mga "kolorum" dahil kahit paano, mas maginhawang sumakay dito, malinis,aircon, tama lang ang singil. Pagkatapos magbanat ng buto maghapon, konting comfort lang ng katawan pauwi ang inaasam, dahil sa gabi at madaling araw lang naman nakakabyahe ang "kolorum". Ang laking tulong din nito sa reduction ng pedestrians sa kalye, dahil sa isang AUV, 12 ang maximum na pasahero.

Kung ititigil rin lang ang sistema ng kolorum sa ngalan ng batas, mag-isip naman ang Pangulo at mga kinatawan nya ng alternatibo upang makapaghanapbuhay pa rin ang mga tsuper at may-ari ng sasakyan, at makabyahe pa rin ng maginhawa ang libu-libong pasahero. Kalampagain sana ang LTFRB, na maging patas sa pagpresyo ng prangkisa.

Ang hinanakit naming maliliit na may-ari ng sasakyan, pinag-iinitan kami dahil wala kaming laban at walang mga kapit sa heneral, ombudsman, cabinet secretary o congressman. Willing po kaming magbayad ng prangkisa kung sa kaban ng bayan at kapakanan nito mapupunta ang ibabayad namin. Pero wag naman kaming damputin at i-deprive ng ikinabubuhay namin. Hindi po kami mga kriminal. Kung mga kriminal nga, hindi nyo mahuli-huli dahil mabilis kumaripas ng takas, o mataas ang kapit. Kami, mga mababait na tupang sumasama sa inyo pag hinuhuli nyo dahil wala talaga kaming magawa.

Suggestion ko magkaroon ng public forum tungkol sa usaping ito. Palagay ko hindi alam ni PNoy ang puno't dulo nito. The MMDA is under the direct supervision of the President, right? Iparating nyo naman please ang saloobin ko, which I am sure ay saloobin rin ng maraming maliit na tao na nais lang kumita ng marangal upang mabuhay sa pang-araw-araw.