Friday, February 8, 2013

Of ironies and vulnerabilities

Re-posting from another blog.  This was originally posted on January 18, 2011.

Today is April 5, 2008.
I just read this line:

“…Poverty is not just the failure to meet income requirements. It is the presence of factors undermining the capacity of communities and individuals to reach their full potentials.”


I’ve saved the above lines as a draft for a blog post almost 3 years ago.  When I saw this draft I thought I would like to continue with what was running in my mind at that time.  I was thinking about it while walking across to the other side of Ayala MRT Station on my way to meet a dear friend in a coffee shop inside the Global City.

I was so deep in my thoughts when I suddenly heard a voice cry out loud.

Hindi po, hindi po.  Nagugutom lang po ako!

When I raised my head to see what was happening, I saw three of the security guards inside the station tugging at a young boy, dragging him actually while the young guy kept struggling to free himself.

I heard one of the security guards tell the other guard:

Hawakan mo kasi sa kabilang kamay!

There were several onlookers watching while this was happening.  When I approached them to ask what was happening, they just stared at me, nobody could tell me why there were already 5 security guards surrounding the boy.

Then I walked slowly, still looking back wondering what that was all about.  The young boy had his back already on the floor and being pulled up by the two guards holding both his hands.  I couldn’t stop myself from approaching two saleslady in one of the stalls and asked: “Do you know what is happening there?  Why are those security guards dragging that young boy?”  One of the ladies replied:

Pumasok po kasi yong batang yon sa KFC at nanghihingi ng pagkain.  Ayaw kasi ng KFC yon kaya ayun … pinahuli sa mga security guards.

For a few sec I felt my breath stop when I heard this.  My goodness, I heard myself speak, they could just have given him some food.  He really looks hungry.  But just like all the rest of the onlookers, I wasn’t able to do anything about the situation there.

I walked away sadly thinking that while some of us may be busy thinking and updating our definition of poverty, searching for the right measures to look at capacities and vulnerabilities, this reality continues.  Still thinking about it after several hours of having been in that scene, I am writing it down now, maybe to remind myself why I have been engaged in development work for almost three decades now.  And maybe … to remind others, too, that poverty is not an abstract thing at all.  We only have to look around and strive to make a difference to someone, even just for a meal.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A sample movie review

While having dinner last night ...

Daughter: [suddenly asked] Ma, have you seen the film "The Tourist" (a Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie movie)? 

Me: No, I haven't seen that movie yet.  Why?

Daughter: Ibang klase talaga itong si Johnny Depp.  Character actor talaga siya.   Nakakatawa yon eh kasi pinapaliit niya ang kanyang sarili sa movie na yon siguro para hindi niya masapawan si Angelina Jolie.  Doon nga sa isang scene, nakaupo lang siya at umiinom ng beer.  Wala siyang ibang ginagawa or sinasabi kaya.  Pero sapaw pa din niya sa screen si Angelina Jolie.  At si Angelina na yon ha!!!  Eh di lalo na siguro pag iba ang kasama niya sa movie. (Johnny Depp is really a character acter.  He's so funny in that movie because I noticed that he really tried to reduce his projection on-screen whenever he is in a scene with Angelina Jolie.  There was this scene wherein he was simply sitting in one corner, drinking a bottle of beer...doing nothing...just sitting there silently.  But goodness, he still has this strong projection on-screen that you won't even notice Angelina was there.  Imagine, that's already Angelina Jolie!) 

Me: [was just smiling and listening...trying to imagine the scene...]

Then she suddenly remarked:

Daughter:  Pero pag si Cate Blanchett yon, hindi siya kayang sapawan ni Johnny Depp.  Ibang level kasi si Cate Blanchett.  At pag pinagsama sila sa screen....sasabog yong screen!!! (But if it's Cate Blanchett, oh, I guess that won't happen at all.  But if you have Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett together in one scene...hah, the screen might explode!!) 

Me: [now trying to imagine Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett together in a movie] I couldn't imagine that scene... and besides, hindi sila bagay eh. (I don't know but they don't seem to have that chemistry at all.) 

Daughter:  Oo nga, ang hirap isipin.  Parang pinagsama mo yong Pirates of the Caribbean tsaka Lord of the Rings...(Yah, it's really hard to imagine Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett being together in a movie.  :-) It's like combining the movie Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings!  So unimaginable, really. )

How about that for a typical conversation over dinner?

This makes me want to watch those movies I've missed in the cinema so I can catch up with these reviews.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Baby Furball, the cat with an attitude


Journal entry:

09 December 2005, 8:38 AM

I remember that day seeing this cute kitten sneaking at our gate, rushing behind one of the pots when Ducky, our pet dog, came running after him.  I hastily called Bam and Kim, “Dali, tignan niyo! May cute na kitten dito sa labas!”  And soon my two daughters were out looking for the kitten in our driveway.  Since I was in the middle of finishing a report at that time, I completely forgot about this.

A moment later, Bam and Kim came to my room carrying the sneaky and shy kitten, whom they have already nicknamed “Furball”.  Both girls kept saying “ang cute niya Mama no?”, which of course simply meant - "dito na siya Mama ha? aalagaan namin siya."  We already had three pets: 2 cats (Turkey, the black cat, Wabbit, the white cat) and 1 dog (Ducky - a doggie who came to adopt us - oh that's another story I want to write about).

And since that day … I couldn’t help but feel so much warmth and affection for the new “baby” in our family.     We discovered that Furball had his way of communicating with us using different tones of his “meow” which sometimes sounds “wow” in different notes.

Whenever I am washing the dishes, he is there sitting on the side of the sink to strike a conversation with me -- him, with his meows and wow and whatever sound he creates while looking up at me; and me, talking with him the way I do with small kids.  I enjoy these funny conversations with him.  I guess, Furball also enjoyed it as much as I did.

It wasn’t easy for Turkey and Wabbit to get used to having another kitten with us.  But as the days and weeks passed by, slowly, they became used to his makulet na presence, even tolerant of his distinctly different behaviors.

Wabbit and Furball became funny playmates.  I could see that they love the same toys, claim for the same sleeping space in the shelf, and love for the outdoors.  And it turned out that Furball was the bully to a bigger Wabbit, who was more than double his size.

Turkey became Furball's mentor and disciplinarian, teaching him where to pee and how to use the litter box, and maybe taught him many other things that we didn't care to know anymore.

And Ducky, our pet dog, became his best friend.  I believe they were really close that Ducky knew something happened to his best friend when he made that very sad cry (bigla siyang nag-alulong) yesterday.  True enough, when we got to the clinic we found out that Furball made his last breath at the exact moment Ducky cried out loud.

I really miss him so much.  These were the thoughts running at the back of my mind while folding the laundry atop our double-deck bed.  But while doing this I couldn’t help from bursting into tears for not hearing his “wow” for the past two days.  When I turned my head, I saw Wabbit staring at me from down below and hastily jumped up to the “second floor” of the bed and gave me that “bite” in my arm, the way Furball used to do.  Then he started rubbing his body on the pillow I was embracing as if sharing with my sadness and assuring me that he is still there to give me those funny habits we have associated with Furball.  I embraced Wabbit and told him, “I know you miss Furball, too!” And he stayed beside me for a few more minutes, maybe also remembering Furball.

Then I started remembering another scene.

A few months later after adopting the kitten, Furball's mom, a stray cat fed by Bam when she saw her nursing several kittens, came over and stood staring at our door as if knowing that her baby is with us.  Upon seeing her at the door, we brought Furball out to her mom.  When the mom-cat saw Furball, she slowly walked away towards our neighbor’s gate.  We noticed that she was treading slowly, hesitantly as if waiting for Furball to follow her.  We simply watched through our window to see what was going to happen.  Although Furball took a few steps towards the gate, we saw that instead of following his mom he started poking at the pot of plant that was a few feet away from the gate.  Then the mom-cat walked through our neighbor's gate out of our sight.

Taking that as our cue that Furball made his decision to stay with us, we hastily got him back and brought him inside our home.  We felt at that moment that the mom-cat also wanted to give Furball the choice, in the same way that we wanted to leave them by themselves to make that decision.

We had a restless sleep last night.  Kim felt that Furball was actually with us the whole night.  Even Turkey and Wabbit were a bit restless, too.  In the middle of the night I saw Wabbit go up to the top of the cabinets, the place where he usually stays when he wants to be all by himself.  And it was early morning when I felt Turkey creep to his sleeping area, on top of my malong,  between my legs, while  Wabbit slept beside me the whole night.

We woke up at 6 a.m. today because we wanted to bury Furball very early in the morning, before the sun is up.  I wanted to hug him for some more minutes before placing him inside the hole Butch dug up last night.  Putting Furball in his resting place was a very painful gesture on my part.

I started wondering if the three of us (me and my two daughters) shared the same feeling inside our heart.  And so I asked Kim, my youngest daughter, if she also feels that pinch inside her heart.  She said, “Ganon din ang nararamdaman ko, Ma.”

No amount of rationalization could remove the pain and guilt I feel in my heart after what happened.  I can’t help but cry once more as I remember Furball finding his way to the CR, despite the pain and being weak, to pee.  He even tried to find his way to the laundry area and use the litter box, as he usually did in the past.

It's sad and it's a mixture of many other things...ang hirap i-describe.  basta.

... and we bid him good bye and au revoir very early this morning.  I know it's gonna take some time before I stop crying about this.  and it's okay. sarap magmahal ng ganito.