Thursday, October 30, 2008

November 1

For some Filipinos, this weekend will be about treats and parties, chocolates and costumes, being spooky and having fun. But for most Pinoys, like our family, it will be about candles and cemeteries, flowers and tents, reunions and prayers. Because this weekend, like what we have been doing for the past 10 years or so, my family will be at Loyola Memorial Park to visit the grave of my younger brother.

My brother was at the prime of his youth, about to graduate college, taking up Engineering in the only school he has ever attended all his life. He was nerdy, quiet, seemingly unassuming but had lots of friends and knew how to have fun with them. Being the third among four siblings, he was the power broker and arbiter between me and my elder sister’s constant fights. He knew whom to take sides and when to do it so harmony would settle between us. He was the one my Mom trusted the most and he gave the least headache to my parents while growing up. He was a good boy, a good friend, a good brother and a good son.

Everything went haywire during a routine medical examination when doctors found a grape size lump on his left wrists. After some test, the doctors knew they had to do a biopsy to confirm their suspicions. So they asked permission from my parents to do a biopsy but added that should they find it to be malignant, they would have cut off the left arm just below the elbow to stop the spread of the cancer cells.

I remember how anxious we all were on the day of the operation. When word got around that he was about to be wheeled out of the operating room, we all rushed in to see how he was. We knew that the one sure sign that everything went well was if his left arm was still intact. So there we were, waiting, hoping, praying…

We saw his frail body, in a hospital gown, a blanket draped over him, with dextrose tubes around, barely conscious because of the anesthesia. I remember how the attendees, nurse and orderlies were quietly rolling him in his room, transferring him to his bed, checking the tubes attached to him. The whole family too was silently waiting, afraid to ask, probe or question. But we tried to be brave for him, or so we thought... but as soon as my Mom had the courage to come near him, caress his hair then gently, slowly, remove the blanket, we all saw what we feared the most…. his left arm was cut off.

I remember my father, me, my sister and our youngest, immediately turn our backs at him and cried….and oh, how we cried. But with all the crying I did, the wailing of my sister and the tears of my father, my Mom just stood there facing my brother, with no tears, chin held high, putting up a brave front, caressing him, whispering, showing and reassuring not only my brother but everyone around, that everything will be alright. I was stunned and I realized how brave my Mom was. I was so proud of her.

My brother was discharged from the hospital after a few weeks, and jumped in immediately to the activities he left off as if nothing happened. He went back to school, and continued with his extra curricular activities there. He went swimming, became good at ping-pong and just became more physically active. He was not conscious of his disability, faced the difficulties of having one arm as a challenge and just took everything in stride. He was doing great, he was enjoying life…... but it only lasted for about a year and a half.

Things turned around slowly at first. We started noticing he was getting tired easily, had difficulty breathing and was losing his appetite. Eventually, he went in and out of the hospital again, had chemotherapy but was still deteriorating. The whole family was there rallying for him, supporting him, praying for him. His classmates were there for him too. During one of his long hospital stay, three busloads of his schoolmates came to visit him one time. The hospital authorities were shocked at such a large contingent visiting a patient and refused to let them all in. As a compromise, only 5 students at a time were allowed to visit him in his room, so you could just imagine how long that took. With over a hundred college kids visiting him, it was a rowdy, fun, and tiring day for him. But he loved it….and the whole family loved it.

Less than two years after he was diagnosed with cancer, my brother died at our home where he wanted to. His cancer cells spread on his lungs, his stomach, and just all over his body. He was suffering and was in pain, especially in the last few days of his life, but he was still always cheerful, brave and optimistic. On his funeral, all his friends, classmates, families and loved ones were there not only to grieve but more so to celebrate his life, the way he wanted to be remembered.

So on November 1, his family, some of his friends and former classmates, will troop again to the cemetery to pay their respect to a good boy, a good friend, a good brother and a good son.

I miss you bro…..

Monday, October 13, 2008


I started smoking when I was 14. The first one was in front of a girl I was courting and trying to impress. I was a short and a lanky kid and I wanted to show her I wasn't a kid anymore by doing things only adults do....and what better way to show that than by smoking. We were standing around this dark corner with some other taller, older kids when I was offered a cigarette in front of her by one of the tougher guys. I blindly accepted, lit and inhaled deeply, only to cough it up immediately. I remember getting dizzy instantaneously and nauseous at the same time. Obviously, this brought laughter and lots of cajoling by the other kids, but I nonetheless still made an impression to the girl since she eventually became my first girlfriend....but that's another story. Anyway, I could never understand that time what drove people to smoke, how bad it really tasted, and what pleasure they actually derive from it. But even if my instincts tell me I was getting into something really stupid, from then on, I started smoking regularly.

I was smoking when I was with friends. I smoked while cramming for an exam. Of course I smoked when I was drinking. I smoked when I was in the bathroom. I smoked before I went to sleep. And the best of all times to smoke, after a heavy meal.....and boy, was it better than dessert! I think I may have reached a pack a day, but I guess this was mostly when I was out drinking with friends....and during my younger days, that happened a lot. So on the average, I was probably smoking a half a pack a day, and this was only because I made it a point not to smoke in the morning. So normally, my first puff occurred after my lunch meal only.

By the time I reached my thirty's, I realized I was already smoking half my life....and that really scared me! I knew I had to stop. So I gradually reduced smoking at first, then attempted to quit cold turkey.....but failed after about a year when I reached out for a cigarette during one of my drinking sprees. Tried again by reducing the number of sticks I smoked in a day to 5 sticks, then quit cold turkey.... again. Thankfully, it's been several years now and I haven't had a puff in years.

I know a lot of people would understand the "supposed" hell I went through when I quit.....and would be proud of me for staying smoke free all these years. I wish all those who are thinking of quitting to have the guts to finally push through with it. ....and I wish those who have failed to also have the guts to try again. I won't lecture you guys on the evils of tobacco.......because I am pretty sure you all know. I just pray you get to do it soon. And for those people who don't get it why people just can't quit smoking, I am happy you never got addicted to it and I just hope you understand, support, and help out the love ones you have who are smoking and wants to quit too.....

Friday, October 03, 2008


Sometimes I can't help but wonder, what do I get from blogging? What do I want to convey in my writing? In the first place, am I writing so that others may read my thoughts and feelings? Or am I just expressing my views in words through a medium that's new and high tech?

It's so hard to answer all of them, especially since I am just new at blogging. But before all that, how did I get into this world of blogging in the first place?

I believe the first blog I came across was that of Nelz. He was still with his Pinoy lover Ian who also had a blog then. I remember how intrigued I was on their daily lives, their quarrels and even their sex lives, which they did not hesitate the describe in detail. Since then I was hooked! It was like a soap opera in the net....but this time, they were real people and a gay couple at that! It was great reading!

From Nelz's blog, I ventured into Mcvie's "shows". Here he was talking about everything and anything under the sun. His style of writing was great, very entertaining plus, informative for me particularly about his gimmicks and sexcapades. Being a homebody, I was sort of living his life vicariously. So through his writings, I was able to imagine how it felt like going to Bed, and how to handle yourself in F........places I haven't been to.

Then I ended up at Pulsar's anonymous, faceless guy who also wrote about everyday stuff......from his relationships, to his job, to his workouts, gimmicks, and his friends. He wrote poems and essays. He wrote in cryptic style, and did free writing. He described conversations he had with the different personalities he's created of himself through the years. Great read from who looks like a great guy.....

From thereon, I bumped into several other blogs....from Gibbs to Mandaya, from Corporate Closet to the much missed Wanda Ilusyonada, from Aris to even Danton....different peronalities, different writing styles, different topics......all a great read!

So what got you started in blogging?