Our cup this week is filled to the brim with grace.
Our hours revolve around an 11-month-old baby—Adrian. The whole household is extra alert, extra happy, extra thrilled, extra careful, extra everything.
Adrian is with us while his parents are away on a much-needed vacation. What a blessing to have him!
He's a very happy baby, so adorable, and is always smiling but I couldn't capture it in photos, sigh. I should stop blaming my camera for my inadequacy as a photographer.
The people who are at Adrian’s beck and call are: Tony, who comes home extra early from the office; JC, whose first question when he comes home is, “How is Adrian?”; JR, who is taking time off from his bar review; and two househelps—Ate Vi, who cooks Adrian yummy home-cooked meals, and Jen, who does her housework at record speed so she could take care of Adrian.
And then there’s Sam, Tony’s driver, who has been assigned to drive our little guest anywhere or to Gymboree where Adrian attends classes or simply plays. And of course the people in the whole neighborhood, who now call Adrian by name when we stroll with him early mornings and late afternoons; and last but not least, his Amah (moi), who closed shop for Adrian's visit.
The downside is, I think we may already be spoiling him.
We tip-toe and don't breathe when he’s asleep. We race in trying to carry him—and now he doesn’t want to be in his stroller or playpen anymore. He whimpers and raises both hands to signal he wants to be carried. And then he points to the door to say he wants to go out. And we are all more than willing to oblige!
My prayer is that he goes back to his regular schedule when he flies home to Michigan. Otherwise his mommy, who has been doing a great job as a SAHM (left her job for Adrian), will have a difficult time juggling her schedule.
Who are you? Adrian seemed to be asking when Tony—this man who is the older version of his father—carried him.
To Adrian, our first and only grandson, we are strangers. Since he was born almost one year ago in Michigan, USA, he had never seen us.
But we’ve seen a lot of him through the photos which his parents regularly send.
So when my son JB, and his wife Gianina, announced they were coming home to the Philippines for a two-week vacation, we were more than excited, we were euphoric. At last, an . . . eyeball!
They were scheduled to arrive at 12 midnight and so there we were—Tony, JC, JR and me—our eyes riveted on the video that monitored the movement of passengers.
As soon as we saw the image of two adults and one baby in a pram, we rushed to the arrival area. It was hot and humid and the crowd was like that of a night market's on sale (a contrast to cold and peaceful Michigan at this time of the year).
Adrian looked bewildered and confused. Where on earth am I? He must have been thinking.
He was not aware that he and his parents have just completed the picture of a family set apart by space and time. It was a Kodak moment, yet my camera couldn't even begin to capture the depth and breath of joy and its synonyms.
But God’s grace made us record this moment in our hearts, forever.
Someday I will tell Adrian how it felt like when we saw and touched him that very first time.
On my second day at Water Paradise Resort, I decided to look for the missing water—outside the premises. See, the few times I was in Bohol, I had all the water I needed and wanted to enjoy.
At 5:30 at dawn, I donned my walking clothes and went past the resort gate. I asked the guard if it was safe to walk alone that early. He was half asleep but managed to nod.
A few meters from the gate, I was met by these dogs.
They were earlier asleep on the road so I thought I could take their photo. The flash woke them up and they snarled at me. I shook in my rubber shoes.
The rustic scene had a few paths that led to somewhere. I took one and saw these:
After one hour, still no water. I walked back to the resort with a resolve to try again tomorrow.
Tomorrow gave me great company. My friends in the National Advisory Committee are also avid walkers—Sito, Pastor Bong, and Atty. Arni. Gary, the 5th member of our group didn't believe in the benefits of walking as much as he did in the benefits of sleeping.
A bit more adventurous with three bodyguards, I followed their lead.
We saw water! A sea of water! A few fishermen were enjoying their fresh catch for breakfast, reminders of God's abundant grace.
This is the Bohol I know and love: a place abundant with water, a water paradise.
Water Paradise Resort—that’s the name of the place where I'd be staying for five days in Tagbilaran City, Bohol (for the LDP Congress of Compassion International, where I was invited as a resource speaker).
Before I got there, I imagined a place floating in water, water, water. Mental note, pack swimsuit.
But between packing my notes, flash drive, computer, clothes for various sessions, camera, chargers—plus other tiny details one needed for a long trip—I totally forgot about my swimsuit.
I berated myself repeatedly for this omission—on the plane and on the bus which brought me to the resort.
I should not have bothered. What greeted me at the entrance was this water fountain, with no water!
When I asked where the water was, front desk pointed to this pool.
“Where’s the rest of the water?” I asked.
She waved to the water dispenser in the dining hall.
Around Water Paradise was land and paved roads. That is not to say I found grace wanting in Water Paradise. Grace, as always, came in full force.
There were beautiful flowers. Food was great and varied. The 65 college students—sponsored scholars of Compassion International —showed me how vibrant praise, worship, and thanksgiving should be. They were in awe, especially because it was their first time in Bohol. For most of them, this was also a first in plane travel. I couldn’t get over the excitement on their faces.
I kicked myself for being so critical.
My room is in the “mansion,” originally the home of the owners. It’s ten steps (right side) from this living room.
The air conditioning was brrrrr and the flat-screen TV had cable channels. I didn’t miss watching American Idol!
Water Paradise was a paradise in everything—but water. Well, names do not really matter, do they? Where's the dog in hotdog? Or the cat in catsup?
It was in the middle of a wet market, between the shrimps and the crabs, where I found the reason why I have been too much of a clock watcher lately.
It’s not really the deadlines—I thrive on them—or the appointments. It’s being there, in that wretched place where I’d never be if Ate Vi (my househelp of three decades) were around. She has been on vacation for the past two weeks and won’t be back till another five days! The job of marketing fell on . . . who else but me?
Everything in that space was simply over my head. I could stand with my empty basket beside the milk fish and tuna for hours and not know what to do. I have nothing against marketing. I think it is a very noble undertaking. But it has everything against me!
“Did you want your fish cut into pieces, or would you like me to scale them?” the vendor asked.
I headed to the vegetable section. As I stared at the onions (white? red? green?), confident hands of veteran shoppers darted in and out of the baskets, knowing their onions by heart—what color and what size.
And now I have too little time to pack for my early flight to Bohol tomorrow. And I still haven’t finalized my slides!
And I am squandering whatever time I have left whining on this post!
Ta-ta! I will be back in six days (there is no internet where I am going). By that time, Ate Vi should be here and I will have all the time to blog again.
These days, I am a clock watcher. I am always running out of time.
If I don't finish this on time, I won't be able to start that on time . . . it's a vicious cycle. So when I saw this humongous clock (I couldn't fit in the frame) in my cousin’s house, I wanted to bring it home! The bigger the better—to remind me of the ticking of the hours.
One time I was hurrying to an appointment and to my horror, I didn’t have a watch on. I hyper-ventilated or hypo-ventilated—couldn’t exactly tell the difference at a time like that.
I know, I know I need to pause and smell the flowers, but there are crazy days and there are crazier days and the craziest days are yet to come.
At our weekly prayer meeting, my friend Sonia said, “You know, it’s only by God’s grace that I am able to get through the day. There are just too many things that need my attention.”
I asked, “Are you talking to me or about me?”
We laughed, we prayed, and we agreed: only by sustaining grace . . .
It’s the first week of April, four months after the Christmas season.
When I entered my husband’s boardroom (more like a meeting room that connects to his office), this was what greeted me: A drawing by one of the account executives’ little daughter.
Was it an April Fool’s Day joke? Or, has the boardroom been unused for four months?
It is the latter.
“Business must be bad,” I told Tony.
“On the contrary,” he said, “it has picked up in 2008.”
“Where do you hold your meetings?” I asked curiously.
“Mmmmm, coffee and fast food shops, diners, or clients’ office,” he said.
With the advent of cell phones and e-mails and the sprouting of coffee shops and new fusion eateries, I guess boardroom meetings have gone out of style. Well, good for me. Now I have a space all to myself when I go to Tony’s office. I can spread my manuscripts, side-by-side with the dailies’ crosswords, and still have enough room for my laptop and the few books I am reading.
This is my work room in Makati, which is something like a once-a-week event these days. Not bad, it’s the biggest room in the whole office, and it is grace-lit.
My brother Dave and his wife, Glad, are in town from American Samoa for the university graduation of their daughter, Dazha. It is always an exciting time for family when some of its members, absent for sometime, are around. No email or phone call can ever make up for presence.
This visit also means one other thing.
My painting, which I have reserved for Dave and Glad on the right side of this site (for months), will now move from there to here, until its final exit from my grip when I write a new post in three days or so. “Yellow Flowers” has finally been given to its rightful owners.
I hope they behold it not with wonder and awe (this being no art master), but with the same sense of warmth and affection that I put into that canvas.
These flowers will never wilt, not even in this sweltering summer heat. They will continue to bloom as God’s grace blooms in our lives when the heat of daily living threatens to weaken us.