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Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's A Merry Christmas After All

The first few days before Christmas I didn't feel well, I had to be absent for work just to let myself recuperate and even if I wanted to go to work, I just couldn't... I mean my body won't allow me.  I thought I was going to spend my Christmas in misery... but  I really thank the Lord that during His birthday, He had given me enough to enjoy the day with my family.  

But Christmas is more for the kids... how I felt their excitement and anticipation for the season.  Especially the opening of the gifts and the goodies and sweets.  How I loved their innocence and the simplicity of their satisfaction... how I loved seeing the joy in their eyes in receiving and opening gifts.  I guess I just miss feeling the same way about Christmas... I missed the child in me. 

We spent our Christmas simply and the karaoke came into action during moments when everything came to a halt... remember we are in Davao and there's no firecrackers or fireworks here... it has been banned for quite a sometime now.  Though it might not be as I remembered before as a child, a Christmas blast where everyone spent lots of bucks for papers filled with black powder that made your eyes blinded with light and made you deaf for a couple of minutes... hahaha.  But hey, good riddance, my wife had never recalled disastrous firecracker related accident in her work since it was banned a couple of years ago.  That's good enough for me... but still, I missed the noise... huhuhu.

Well, after all these, I can't help but feel humbled  of how He has been so generous to my family. I feel so blessed that I have my wife and my two adorable kids., I call them my three Alas(3 Aces). I cannot think  of a more perfect gift than having my three A's with me. I thank Thee for priceless blessings such as them. Happy Birthday dear Jesus!

Part XI – Love Ever After (In Filipino "Tagalog" dialect)

When Damon arrived in the US, the first thing he did was dial Stephanie’s number. Still it was out of coverage area.  Halos hindi nya na mabilang kung ilang beses nyang tinawagan si Stephanie.  Parating unattended ang kanyang telepono. Wala rin sya sa bahay nila or sa Hospital.  He felt stubborn can this woman get.

Damon’s calls were all refused, sa hospital, sa bahay, even her personal number was already changed.  The flowers he sent her were all returned.  Damon couldn’t connect this situation to what transpired that night at Marco Polo Hotel.

He stayed for two weeks to make sure that his brother recovered well from the accident.  Thank God Alfred was able to go home in fair condition.

Now, he has to come up with a plan.  Think Damon. If you can’t talk to her to tell her that you love her and want to marry her and that you are not married like what she’s thinking, then how the f*Ck will she know all that!  When all your calls are refused!  Nag aalburuto nang utak ni Damon.

Then a person popped on his mind... Maybe her best friend can help. After that unfortunate incident with Jamie at Marco Polo, he made a background check.  He found out everything he had to know about him.  He felt guilty for punching Stephanie’s best friend because of jealousy.

Tuason Medical Center, Davao City

Steph was assigned at the emergency room for a twenty for hour shift.  As a surgery doctor, she was the one to receive all vehicular accident patients.

It was a very benign hour when the 911 ambulance echoed and stopped at the emergency room entrance.  A man was brought to the treatment room.

Steph went straight to the treatment room to assess the patient but she was shocked to see who it was.

“Damon?!.. Look at me... Damon!” 
The man wasn’t responding. Panic struck her.  She was a doctor and she shouldn’t feel this way. But this situation is different.  Her memories of him on the hospital bed came back to her.  Oh God help me!.  She felt like she didn’t know what to do first.  There was blood all over his face and chest.

“I need someone to take his vital signs!  Nurse!  Please call Dr.Mendez to assist me, hurry up please”.  She couldn’t control her tears from falling.

“Damon!  Please open your eyes!” She checked for his pupils, thank God it wasn’t dilated.

“Please don’t die... Don’t leave me!  Where is Dr. Mendez?!”  Napasigaw na ito.

Steph was holding his hand... She kissed it, didn’t care about what other staff might think.  She touched his face... he still had a good pulse.  But she still couldn’t tell where his other injuries were except for the head which she is sure of since an elastic bandage was wrapped on it and he was unconscious when he arrived.

“Nurse, his blood pressure?” she wanted to make sure.

“His BP is already 40 palpatory, doc.”

“I’ll start an IV, please prepare Dopamine... and I need a cardiac monitor please. No Damon, wag kang ganyan... sweetheart, it’s me Stephanie, wake up please.” Halos idikit na ni Steph ang mukha nya kay Damon.

“Damon, I love you.  Don’t leave me please.” Napahagulgul na ito.

Nanginginig ang mga kamay ni Stephanie habang naghahanap ng ugat ni Damon for IV access, when Dr. Jake Mendez arrived.

“Steph, let me take over.” Pagkalma ni Dr. Mendez sa kanya.

“No, I don’t want to leave him... Jake, he needs to live, he is my life.” Sabay yakap nito kay Damon habang umiiyak.

Steph froze when Damon wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly.

“I love you more sweetheart” pagkumpirma nito.

“What?” Umangat si Steph at tumingin kay Damon.

Nginitian sya ng pagkatamis-tamis ni Damon. “I love you too sweetheart.”

Natulala si Steph... nag ayos ng tayo at lumabas ng treatment room.  Habang  tumatakbo ito palayo ng emergency room ay sinalubong sya ni Jamie.

“Steph! Wait up!”

“Jamie! Thank God you’re here... I think I’m going crazy.”

“Sshhh... I know, but that’s the only plan we could think para lang umamin ka.”

“We?  What do you mean we?  No, you’re my best friend at nakikonchaba ka sa kanya?  How could you?”

“I wanted to help the two of you Steph, you both deserve to be happy.”

Both stopped talking when the paging system started to talk.  It was Damon on the microphone.

“Stephanie, wherever you are, I want you to know that I love you very much and I want to make it clear that I AM NOT MARRIED... I am a single man who is in deep love with you and want to spend the rest of his life with you...Please marry me Dr. Sephanie Tuazon.

She cried in disbelief of what Damon said.  She hugged Jamie.

“Is it true?”  All along, he wasn’t really married?  But who’s Megan?  And Abbie?”

“Megan is my brother’s wife and Abbie is my niece.  Sagot ni Damon na nasa likuran niya.

Lumingon si Stephanie na umiiyak parin.

“I’ll leave you two to talk” Singit ni Jamie.

“Thank you, Jam.” Nakipagkamay si Damon kay Jam..

Lumapit si Damon sa kanya.  Hinawakan ang mga kamay nya at hinalikan pareho.

“I hate you.” Mahinang bigkas ni Steph habang nakatingin sa kanilang mga kamay.

“I love you” Sagot ni Damon.

“I really hate you.” Inulit ni Steph.

“I love you all the more.” Panay ang halik ni Damon sa kanyang mga kamay.  Sabay luhod sa kanyang harapan.

“Dr. Queen Stephanie Rodriguez Tuason? I promise not to do that again and be a loving husband and father to you and our kids.  I promise to love you and take care of you as long as I live... Will you marry me?” Pagkatapos ay binuksan ni Damon ang isang small black box na naglalaman ng pink diamond in a platinum ring.

Muling pumatak ang mga luha ni Steph at lumuhod rin sa harap ni Damon.
“Like I said, I’m all yours Damon... Yes I will marry you.”

Mahigpit silang nagyakapan.  They stayed like that for minutes.  Thanks to Jamie who made sure na wala munang magagawi sa parteng iyon ng hospital.

On that same day, Damon and Stephanie got married in a small chapel at Tuazon Medical Center.  Saksi ang lahat ng mga kasama nyang doctor at nurses and Stephanie’s Family of course.

Syempre, their grand wedding will follow soon, dahil hindi makakapayag si Senyora Carmella na walang engrandeng kasal na magaganap para sa kanyang unica hija at para makadalo narin ang pamilya ni Damon.

After the grand wedding, they had their honeymoon at a private beach resort in the Carribean..

“I can’t believe I’m Mrs. Stephanie Samuel now.”  She made a sigh while looking at the sunrise.

“I never dreamt for my dream to come true, but you are the living proof of it, come here sweetheart.”

They kissed and hugged while the sun slowly rose.

“I love you Damon.”

“Hhmmm...You are my life sweetheart.  Kaya wag na wag ka nang mawawalang muli, mangako ka, I love you too.”

She giggled. “I Promise.”

And it was love ever after.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hours To Go Before Christmas

There's just a lot of things going on, mom's preparing her all time favorite and masterpiece, macaroni salad. The kids are busy singing  their favorite songs in the videoke! I can't help but be excited as well...
Christmas is just hours away, everybody is busy doing just about anything! busy yet happy, as evidenced by their laughters...
Relaxing... "hanep"...(LOL)
There are carolers from time to time... households are already busy preparing for the grand event, cleaning houses, fixing things and cooking food maybe for the noche buena... some are still on the move, maybe for the last day shoppings or groceries... well, everyone seems to be busy minding their own business right now.

Well, for us... the gifts are all wrapped and placed under our tree... and the kids are already very excited to open them, but we told them they need to wait a few more hours and sleep tonight, so by midnight they'll finally open their Christmas presents... 
... when it comes to the food for the noche buena, they are already cooked or half cooked, just to make it easy to prepare and just to steam it a little bit as the clock strikes 12 midnight... soft drinks are already chilled in the ref... and meats are already tenderized and marinated...
... the house had been cleaned as it is nice to celebrate the season with a pleasant surroundings... good aura... my wife keeps on reminding me not to let the children mess up the room us she's still going to work (bummer, but whats great is, she'll be able to join us to celebrate Christmas...) and I'll be left with the kids (lol)...

Me, though I'm still not yet 100% recovered from being sick which started a few days ago, I'm just glad that I'm well enough to celebrate Christmas with my family and friends.  Considering there are those who sadly can't and more, hardly have any... brought by the recent calamity that hit our country... seems I don't have the slightest reason to complain... rather be thankful of how blessed I am in a lot of ways.

Everything is pretty set, Christmas spirit is everywhere.  I guess, the only thing that's missing are the traditional fireworks since it is banned in our city to avoid  accidents. Well, whether there are fireworks or none, It's still a happy and sweet Christmas for everyone! Cheers! Yahweh bless.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Her Artistic Side

Working with her cupcakes...
My daughter had a week long excitement just to be in the cupcake decoration contest held recently at an establishment here in Davao City.  On the site she and her classmates were delighted by the various cupcake decors, there were chocolate syrup and bits, icings and marshmallows to name a few. They  were supposed to compete with other schools but maybe due to the bad weather that day, it turned out that they would have to challenge each others ability instead.

During the competition proper, the artistic side of my daughter surfaced.  She always had been fascinated in mixing up things and creating accessories like necklaces and bracelets.   She decorated the three cupcakes given to her wonderfully and chose the best one for the competition.

As the program progressed to the announcement of winners, her name wasn't called but I was so proud of her that she acted maturely like being a true sport.  She told me that maybe her work wasn't good enough as that of the winners... yet I told her, that might what the judges saw, but for me there is only one winner and that is her.. and she told me that I can only say that because I'm her father.

Her marvelous creation..
Yah well, maybe I'm biased alright... but I just can't hide how proud I am... knowing she did a great job... gave her best shot... showed her creativity... played it fair and best of all, did it by herself.  My daughter's artistic side.  Yahweh bless.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My PMA Cadet Years (Fourth Class) - Recognition Day

I remembered back in my elementary and high school days... “Recognition Day” was a very pleasant day... and so was this day... only, instead of receiving ribbons for good academic performance... we received a simple but very significant handshake from our upperclassmen... as recognition that we basically surpassed our plebehood and take part of our place as 4th classmen of the cadet corps... expected to perform delegated tasks without or with minimal supervision... and show excellence in the performance of the given tasks as what was expected of a PMA cadet.  Let me just use a metaphor... Recognition or the handshake is like a spark of light from our very dark plebehood days...

September 16, 1995 – we started our day feeling weird and somewhat uneasy... everything seemed so quiet.  We had an unfamiliar morning mess with our upperclassmen... unfamiliar, in a sense that we were no longer doing some of the things we usually do... the SOP’s... the “chinning-in”, the “head-ups”, and no more shouting.  After, we returned to our barracks... and we were no longer told to double time.  And inside barracks... trotting was no longer made; it’s the first time we walked the hallway to our quarters.

And after some finishing touches for the open house... a barracks inspection was made... then we heard the commotion we all were looking forward to... our families finally arrived... just seeing them was enough already for me.  That day, I felt how proud they were seeing me standing tall in my full dress uniform.  And honestly, I felt proud too to myself conquering my plebehood days... until now.

Then came the most anticipated part, the recognition ceremony... the event started as any of our “pass-in-review” parades except that here our upperclassmen separated from the formation... by then we marched and created an octagon formation symbolizing the 8 companies of the cadet corps...

... And came our upperclassmen, it was one of the joyous moments of our cadet life... and almost all of them gave us their handshake that day... even by the those I least expected... except for these 2 extraordinary yearlings who might be thinking they were much better than anyone in the corps (LOL).  Come to think of it, if I’d be the one giving them my handshake... I might also be hesitant... considering their performance as should be mentors... (just kidding, of course I would have had gladly did a handshake  with them, if not, then I’m no different from them).

Then, we spent some quality time with our family.  We toured around some famous places in Baguio City.  Unlike what everyone thinks, even PMA is in Baguio, as most cadets; I didn’t have the privilege to go to those places, if my family haven't visited me... hahaha.  We did have a hectic schedule and if we were given a privilege to go to the city proper, it would be just enough to do our business there.

At the end of the day, I gave all praises and thanks to the One who kept me safe and away from harm... the One whom I talked to when I felt like quitting... and the One who never failed to give me my needed strength and confidence... Yahweh and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Previous Related Post:  Rotting Hell Week and Initiation Day 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our Son's Birthday In Gensan

Four years ago, a bouncy little boy was born at 6:09 in the morning of December.  I know since I was awake all day waiting for him outside the delivery room.  We were just glad that he was complete and healthy... and we thanked the Lord for it.  What's more was, it's also the birthday of my mother-in-law, so it's a double celebration. 

This year, we agreed to celebrate his birthday in Gensan with her grandma.  We haven't done that before, since my inlaws just returned from the US to settle here for good after retiring from their work there.  With some of his cousins and my family, we traveled early morning and upon arriving, you can just see the delight in our son's face after he saw the preparation the family had given him... "A Ben 10 birthday party theme".  From the tarpaulin with his face on Ben Tennyson's body (being a avid fan of the cartoon character)  and with mom's face on snow white's body (being a good sport)... to the goodies, stuffs and giveaways... all just wowed him.
The birthday celebrants...

Since we had a double birthday celebration, it was sort of a grand feast (LOL)... there were a lot of guests from both parties.  And as planned, there was a magician who also acted as the program host or emcee.  Who's really worth having, since his magic and sense of humor had entertained both the kids and the kids at heart... all the guests had fun watching him perform his tricks and he even handled the games...  so it was "sulit" (worth every penny).  

The centerpiece, the ever famous "litson" or roasted pig
along with some of our guests.
After the fun and games, a short program was given for my mom-in-law... then we said graces for the food (thank you Lord)... I was really quite hungry already, considering our travel with 4 kids especially when it comes to the taming of the kids (whew).  And since the food was either catered and some are bought, it was already prepared and all we had to do was eat.

The kids, especially our son enjoyed his party... and that's what mattered most. Everything won't be possible and won't be so easy for us, if not for the help of our family in Gensan who took care of what was needed... the goodies, the prices, and the setting up of the house for the celebration... our sincere thanks and gratitude to them.  I thank the Lord for them... and for giving our child a wonderful day and for all the blessings he received for the year that passed by.  May Yahweh continue to bless, protect, and guide him for facing another year of his life.  Happy birthday, son.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy First Movie Theater Experience

I don't really remember my first movie on the wide screen... maybe it was "Superman" which stars the late Christopher Reeve.  My parents told me though that my nickname was from the leading actor's name in the movie they were watching a few days before I was born.  Will that count? (LOL)

But this is something I do know, my son’s first movie... “Happy Feet Two”.  It took a while, since my wife and I were hesitant to bring him to a movie theater.  We were afraid that he might ask us to go out while the movie is going on or worst, even before the movie starts, considering its very dark inside a movie house.  But yesterday, we decided to treat him and his sister and took the risk... and guess what?  He enjoyed the movie... he was quietly watching the movie from the start until it ended... maybe because it has a colorful animation, full of action and sound effects, lovable and fluffy penguin and other fun-to-watch animal characters and exciting music.  He even asked us to watch another round which we would had gladly agreed to if not only it was that late.

I somehow related with the theme of the movie... since it focused on the struggle of a little penguin and a krill in finding their place in this world and of what they were capable of doing and eventually knew what they do best.  For I know, someday, my children would do the same... but for the meantime, we are happy to know that our little boy is confident enough to watch inside a cinema.  He even is asking me right now as to when we are gonna go back to the big TV  (referring to the cinema screen) since ours is very small compared to it (haha)... I thank the Lord for these small but memorable and fulfilling experiences in life.  Yahweh bless.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Avoiding A Christmas Stress

As the holidays are fast approaching, let me just give some suggestions, though these might be common sense but due to our busy and fast lifestyle, we tend to forget and we just need to be reminded... 

Plan Ahead.  Decisions should be way ahead from the holiday.  Know what you're going to prepare for the Noche Buena so you can make a list of ingredients you're going to buy especially those you can store.

Buy within your budget.  You can have a long list of things you want to buy but there's just a limit on what you can actually buy.  Let's face it, our resources are limited and bringing out your credit card won't do you any good... so buy within your means.

Learn to voice out.  Participate in the group decision making, especially in exchanging gifts and other forced contributions.  If you have trouble with your finances, you can always suggest to lower gift limits or amount contributed... if there's a need, then explain.

Don't join the Christmas rush.  There are lots of days to buy the things you need for the holiday season.  Depending on your budget, buy already the things you need most especially the bulky and heavy ones... and those ingredients you can store, so you'll just have to buy the highly perishable goods.

Prioritize.  Distinguish what you need from what you want... except of course if your wallet's that big.  Buying ahead of time affects your daily expenses... and prioritizing what you buy would greatly help.

Have a good storage area.  Make sure that all the things you bought are properly stored.  You might want to inform your household about it... so they can ask permission and you'll know if some of the goods are used ahead so that you can replace them.

Family ties.  Make use of our Filipino customs.  Ask your family or relatives to have a common celebration by which everyone would have their own particular contribution.

Celebrate it simple.  Christmas don't have to be extravagant.  You don't need to overly fill your house with decoration and prepare too much food... make it just enough for you to appreciate it... 

Remember that Christmas comes once every year.  Don't be a "kill joy" and avoid troubles.  Keep your cool and have a spirit of the season.  Be kind to carolers and let your neighbors enjoy themselves.  Also, enjoy but do all things in moderation especially when drinking intoxicating beverages.  

We should not pressure and stress ourselves for Christmas for it defeats the true meaning of it... the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, for whom we are unitedly joined together to celebrate... and that's what matters most. Good luck and Yahweh bless.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My PMA Cadet Years (Fourth Class) - Rotting Hell Week and Initiation Day

September begun with “Baguio Day”. We had no classes since our battalion was included in the parade and we plebes were left to few upperclassmen.  Good start, as you may say, but that was when we needed to be extra careful with our actions for as “Recognition Day” was nearing... endorsements and other misfortunes (as we termed it “kamalasan”) were usually rampant.

Good thing, the academy  had a lot of various activities scheduled in the week until our “Initiation Day”... we still had our academics, Saturday Inspection, sports fest, Sunday services, and meetings with our academy stationed officers.  And still, we were usually asked by our upperclassmen to report to them in athletic uniform every after our classes for another “masi-masi” (series of physical exercises) session... sometimes, even after taps I was visited by upperclassmen... I just couldn’t figure out if they liked me that much that they couldn’t last a day without seeing me or it might be that they wanted me to quit already (LOL).

I also learned that week that a squad mate was resigning and our tactical officer asked me to send her a letter... it’s a blessing in disguise for me, you see, if she resigned then all her mistah will put the blame on me and my squad mates... and I couldn’t let that happen... well, I guess the letter was effective coz she graduated (hehe).

But, not all were obstacles, as I’ve said we were also in our sports fest month... and we had been practicing for weeks for our platoon run to prepare ourselves for an endurance run... and it actually paid off, 11th of September, we started the race as a platoon at Camp John Hay and reached as a platoon at PMA... from 8 companies, we finished 2nd place that day... my very first “minor A” (an athletic recognition).

Well, after the rotting “load and load” (eat til you drop, literally) in the mess hall... the almost endless “masi-masi”... the sleepless nights of reporting to upperclassmen... the extreme trotting, double time, chinning-in and head-ups... all the humiliations and hardships... 

...we came to the finale... hours before “Initiation Day”.  It was 15th of September, and the upperclassmen saved the best for last... it was the day, I hated food so much (sorry Lord)... it’s just that I had never took such amount of food in my life... “load and load” as they limit, I vomited every after meal... no matter how much I tried not to...  and before we knew, we already were asked to change to athletic uniform for another “masi-masi” session... talking about being pushed to the limit... while our upperclassmen were maximizing...

... then a bugle call sounded indicating the initiation proper had arrived.  The weather cooperated with the activity, it was starting to rain when we marched off to Borromeo field... not knowing what to expect but we were already tougher back then, what could be worse than being a plebe.  We started off by running 2 rounds in the field, maybe just to loosen up and calm down our nerves (hehe)... it was followed by an inspirational talk from our commandant and superintendent... then the alma mater song that really made our spirits high.  As the upperclassmen positioned themselves in their designated places, a horn sounded... there and then the task was revealed, we need to go through the 8 companies performing different exercises given to us... from push-ups to squat thrusts... jumping jacks, sit-ups, mountain climbing and so on... we just stopped and transferred to the next company as the horn sounded.  During the course, some upperclassmen especially former squad mates in the summer camp already gave their recognition... And finally reaching our own company upperclassmen as they formed a long line of human tunnel which we had crawled into... and it was done...

... As far as I could remember, no one bogged down... the rain that day really helped us a lot... for me, it’s a way of the Lord showing me His blessings that day...

We then had an evening boodle fight in the mess hall, followed by a long sleepless night of preparation for the following big day...  though exhausted, I remembered I just took a nap for a couple of minutes in the sink, that’s how busy we all were back then... But I’m no longer thinking of rest or what my body felt... I was just proud that I did not only survive the “hell week”... but my whole plebehood days... and was just looking forward for our recognition day... Yahweh bless.

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