What is your reality?

whatisyourreality

Reality is whatever means most to you. Some may see your reality as an illusion, but reality is perception. And what you perceive to be most important in your life is your reality.

I was reminded of this after  my 4-week stay at home in Mindanao with my son and my sisters and nephews, in a city 45-minutes from Marawi where war is raging. Every single day, we’d hear helicopters or planes on their way to Marawi. Every single day I was there, there’d be ambulance sirens. Soldiers with rifles walked around the city (this is a common sight though. We’ve always had soldiers or policemen patrolling the streets, even outside our cathedral.) By 9pm, the streets were quiet because of the curfew (our island is under Martial Law.)

I have never personally thanked any of the soldiers I saw in the mall (young men and women in their routine break from the war doing their shopping). I really wanted to, but I didn’t want them to think I was being weird or whatever. But I am truly grateful, as most of the residents in our city are, for these soldiers’ bravery and dedication. Because of them Iliganons are able to sleep well at night, secure in the thought that they would never let the enemies take our city the way Marawi was taken.

Now that I’m back in “safe” China, I am able to think again and look back at life in Mindanao.

In those 4 weeks, I was so busy “living” that I had little time for thinking and socializing — no Facebook, no Twitter, no WordPress, no texting. I had lunch with a couple of friends twice, and that was all the socializing I did. Every day I was busy being a mother to my son, and being a sister  to my sisters and an aunt to my nephews, and spoke with my husband for a few minutes on the phone. I didn’t have time nor the interest to read or watch the news. I was so out of the loop in what was going on outside of my family.

Yet I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything.

Home. Family. This is my reality; this is what is most important — that the ones I care about the most are safe, and that we are whole as a family.

This is my reality. What is yours?

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Daily Prompt: Purple

One of my sisters is crazy about things purple. So far she hasn’t thought of dyeing her hair purple, or maybe she has but can’t bring herself to do it, which is good.

So whenever I buy her something, I make sure it’s purple. One good thing (for her, (but not so much for me) about her obsession is whenever I see something of this color I immediately think of her, and even if I’m not interested in the thing itself, part of me is tempted to buy it for her.  Grrrr.


When I saw these flowers on campus, of course I remembered my sister. Luckily for me, she’s not crazy about flowers.

Have a lovely a week!

T.

The Daily Prompt: Purple

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish 

This week’s theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is “Wish,” which is quite apt for my situation at this moment when I’m at the airport, again, to go home and see my son and be with my sisters as we remember our mom’s passing a year ago this month. I was informed a couple of hours ago that my connecting flight has been cancelled due to maintenance work on one of the air traffic radars. 

This is just a 5-day trip, and I have to be back at work on Wednesday, but now I might have to spend a day in Manila and waste time not being with my son. 

I’ve used this photograph before, but he is all I can think of right now. 

My wish is to see my son tomorrow. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish 

Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s not this time of year without …

Christmas decorations start getting put up around September in the Philippines. For my family the excitement starts to build up after the feast day of St. Michael ( the patron saint of our city) on September 29th, and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. And Christmas doesn’t end until after January 6th, the Feast of the Three Kings. 

Since living in China, I have not been  really excited about Christmas. When I first came here, there were hardly any Christmas decorations. Now, they are everywhere and young people “celebrate” almost every Western festival, including Thanksgiving. But it’s not the same. It does not feel the same.  Even at church, they see the whole thing as a performance , like a curious opera. It only makes me sad. 

This year Christmas will feel even stranger, especially for my sisters and nephew who will feel my mother’s absence more than I will or do. My husband and I will miss our son who will be celebrating Christmas in the Philippines for the first time, though I am excited for him. 

It’s not Christmas without family and church and happy people buying presents for loved ones and greeting strangers, “Merry Christmas” (and not the fake “Happy Holidays!”) 

It’s not Christmas without knowing the story of Jesus (hence the crèche in the photo) and that Santa is NOT Jesus. 
Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s not this time of year without … 

Stop. Look. Listen. Feel. Be grateful. Move on. 

   

Sunset at Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines 


One of my favorite poems that I can recite by heart is Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I kept reciting this poem to my baby when I was still pregnant, and even after my son was born. HBO’s Classical Baby The Poetry Show includes a reading of this poem by Susan Sarandon, and it is now my 5-year old son’s favorite part of the video.

A thought came to mind today as I watched my son give me the sweetest smile when the video clip began. A few months after our son was diagnosed with Autism, my husband wished Eli would not grow so quickly. Today, only for a moment I wished Eli would never grow up, so people can excuse his strange stimming habits, his speech delay and other autistic traits. Every now and then  I worry about whether or not he will be able to live independently, when my husband and I won’t be around to look after him anymore.

Frost’s poem talks about how we, once in a while, encounter something that make us wish could last at least a lifetime, but we all have other things to do — duties, responsibilities, roles to play in other people’s lives — so we have to move on, continue living our lives.

The speaker in this poem though was truly in the moment. He   noticed his surroundings: the snow-covered woods, the frozen lake; he heard the sound of the harness bells and the wind. He also used his imagination (“My little horse must think it queer…”), and was quite aware not only of the lack of danger (…He will not see me stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow), but also of his responsibilities and of the life he had to live,   (But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep.) 

Oftentimes I look at my son and wonder what life will be like for him. Will he ever be able to speak like a neurotypical person? Will he be able to read by himself the books that he loves for me to read to him? Will he be able to write down his own name?  But then I stop myself from doing this, and instead do things with him. Not much use wondering about the future when so much of it depends on the present.

What I liked most about Frost’s poem is the idea that though we can (and we should) live our lives — face our responsibilities, fulfill our duties, find our way in the darkness — we can stop once in a while and just enjoy what we have in our lives: food on our table, clothes to keep us warm (or cool), roof over our heads,  air we breathe, water we drink, family, friendship. And love. And faith that everything will be all right in the end.

Thank you. Salamat. 谢谢。

The Egret on Campus

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Egret on holiday

Our campus has a sanctuary for egrets. In the summer, one can see the beautiful white egrets perched on the trees by the lake –beautifully white on a green background.

The campus has provided the egrets with a safe haven where they can freely get food and not fear being hunted. True, a lot of of people — students and tourists alike — take pictures of them, but there is no threat.

As winter is approaching, most egrets migrate to the south where it is warmer, like my country.

Walking to work the other day, I saw this lone egret on the wooden bridge. I looked around for other egrets, and there were none. I strained my ear for the kraaa-aaa sound, but there was none.

I’m always guilty of overthinking things and over-empathizing. I imagined what it is like for the egret if it has really been left behind by the other egrets.

Let’s call the egret Trista. Is Trista happy that she can have all the food she wants as she has the lake all to her self, after all it really is not winter yet? If she has parents and siblings, is she happy that she can finally do what she wants to do without them watching every move she makes and criticizing her for not doing things well?

Did she choose to stay, or had she no choice but to stay?

Perhaps when evening comes and it is time to sleep, Trista will begin to feel the pang of loneliness. As it gets darker and she sails through the sky alone, and she looks down and sees human families relaxing at the well-lit park and lovers sitting close to each other on the wooden bridge on the lake, maybe she will feel so alone. And lonely.

When she goes back to her home where her mother’s constant nagging used to annoy her, and her siblings never-ending chatter used to drive her crazy, does she wish they had not left, or that she had left with them?

I watched its movements and thought it was really enjoying its time. Or maybe it's just my imagination.

I watched its movements and thought it was really enjoying its time. Or maybe it’s just my imagination.