Sunday, April 26, 2009

They grow up so fast

Late this afternoon with the 'lambing' of my little Frankie I brought her to 7 11 where we both had a hotdog. She had a regular and I had a chili dog.

I introduced Frankie and Miel to the 7 11 hotdog a few months ago. We would go there on a Sunday when there weren't too many people around and we would have our Daddy-Daughter/s bonding. Today, however, Miel wasn't up to going out so it was just me and Frankie.

Long before Frankie and Miel were born, I would by myself every so often have a chili dog from 7 11. A truly great tasting hotdog, if you ask me. Even greater with root beer.

It is truly joyful to be able to spend time with my children. This is is how it is now with Frankie and Miel and this was how it was too with KC when she was younger. I recall when I started dating Sharon, KC was not yet 9. We too had our separate 'dates' and bonding time particularly when Sharon was busy with work.

KC is all of 24 years now. Indeed, how time flies. I am thankful in a way that I tried my best to spend time with her when she was still in her pre teen years, until her teen years and until most recently as an adult. We would even do the monthly groceries together for many years. She is of course a big girl now and has a life of her own with schedules so hectic but we make it a point to still have our daddy-daughter dates whenever we can so as to say in touch and stay connected. Of course it is no longer like it was before but then she is no longer 10 years old. I have to remind myself that she is no longer 10.

Now, I carry on the traditional daddy-daughter dates with both Frankie and Miel. KC was not yet 9 then when I started dating Sharon. KC is 24 now. Frankie is not yet 9 today. Yes, sadly it does mean that even before I notice it, Frankie too will be all of 24. It breaks my heart that they grow up so very very fast.

I know that they will be all grown up sooner rather than later and therefore I do not wish to waste a single moment while they are still little to be there for them and to share in their simple joys and the simplicity and the innocence of their happiness. They are only little for such a brief, fleeting moment and so for as long as I can help it, I will try my very best make every single moment matter.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Dinner at Vilmar's. Lunch in Ma Mon Luk.

I had the chance to have dinner the other day at Vilmar's Restaurant in Tarlac on my way home from a speaking engagement in Pangasinan. It brought back memories of my childhood when we would have annual summer family trips to Baguio.

When a member of my staff suggested that we perhaps could have dinner with the rest of the team in a popular fast food chain in the area, I said no and then suggested dinner in Vilmar's instead.

I do not have anything against Fast food chain's per se, in fact I brought my daughter Frankie for one of our regular Daddy Daughter dates to a Mcdo branch the other week. I must say however that restaurants like Vilmar's or Everybody's (in San Fernando, Pampanga) and yes even Ma Mon Luk (along Quezon Blvd) should continue to thrive and be patronized. In my case, it serves as a precious link to my past. My parents would bring us almost religiously to Vilmar's (in the summer) and yes to Everybody's and Ma Mon Luk when we were kids. Eating out was a favorite family past time.

Today, I too bring my kids to Ma Mon Luk every so often. I would pick up Frankie from her school in QC with Miel in tow and we proceed to Ma Mon Luk in Quezon Avenue Banawe for lunch. Frankie and Miel enjoy the Mami soup. It is in a sense for me a trip down memory lane. I admit to experiencing a certain degree of sentimentalism because going back to these restaurants of old gives me the chance to capture, to relive even just momentarily those times gone by with my parents. Even just for a fleeting moment I am young and a child again and it feels good.

Coming back to Vilmar's was returning to a part of my self that I now seldom get to experience and encounter for obvious reasons. My childhood. It was by and large a happy childhood filled with memories of family dinners in various restaurants in Manila and elsewhere. We were not wealthy. We were very middle class. We had what we needed and although we may have wished for more sometimes, we could not have more as we were 9 children all in all and each had to be provided for.

We did not have much growing up but we had what we needed to get by with a little extras once in a while. Vilmar's, Ma Mon Luk and Everybody's are my restaurants of old. They are precious links to a past that was simple and, all things considered, happy. They allow me to revisit my childhood. They bring me back to happy and precious moments of family togetherness. What are yours?

These links to the past, the experience of reliving happy childhood memories are truly precious. Our revisiting our past every so often gives us a stronger sense of who we really are, a stronger sense of ourselves. In the face of a confusing, challenging and quite messed up world we live in, we most certainly need to return to the past, relive those precious moments even just momentarily and regain a renewed sense of self to face what lies before us and ahead.


Hapunan sa Vilmar's. Tanghalian sa Ma Mon Luk.

Nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataon na makapaghapunan sa Vilmar’s Restaurant sa Tarlac noong ako’y pauwi mula sa speaking engagement ko sa Pangasinan noong nakaraang araw. Naalala ko tuloy ‘yung taunang bakasyon sa Baguio ng aming pamilya noong ako’y bata pa.

May nag-suggest na miyembro ng staff ko na sa isang sikat na food chain kami maghapunan. Sabi ko huwag. Dun na lang kako sa Vilmar’s.

Hindi naman masama para sa akin ang fast food chains. Katunayan kumain kami ng anak kong si Frankie sa McDonalds noong nakaraang lingo lang sa isa sa regular na pamamasyal naming mag-ama. Pero dapat na patuloy na lumago at suportahan ang mga kainang katulad ng Vilmar’s o ng Everybody’s (sa San Fernando, Pampanga) at maging ng Ma Mon Luk (sa Quezon Boulevard). Ang mga ito ang nag-uugnay sa akin sa nakaraan. Madalas kaming dalhin ng aming magulang sa Vilmar’s (kapag summer) at sa Everybody’s at Ma Mon Luk noong kami’y bata pa. Ang pagkain sa labas ang paboritong libangan ng pamilya.

Madalas ko ring dalhin ang mga anak ko sa Ma Mon Luk. Pagsundo ko kay Frankie sa kanyang school sa QC, diretso kami sa Ma Mon Luk sa Quezon Avenue Banawe kasama si Miel para kumain ng tanghalian. Paborito nila ang mami soup. Bumabalik sa akin ang nakaraan sa mga ganoong pagkakataon. Pakiramdam ko ay bata ulit ako kahit na sa maikling sandal lang. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam.

‘Yung muling pagpunta ko sa Vilmar’s ay parang pagbabalik ko sa isang parte ng buhay ko na bihira ko nang maranasan – ang aking kamusmusan. Napakasaya ng buhay ko noong ako’y bata pa. Puno ito ng alaala ng pagsasalu-salo ng pamilya sa mga restaurants sa loob at labas ng Maynila. Hindi naman kami mayaman. Siyam kaming magkakapatid kaya mahirap makuha ‘yung sobra sa gusto namin.

Ang Vilmar’s, Ma Mon Luk at Everybody’s at mga kinalakhan kong restaurants. Sila ‘yung nag-uugnay sa akin sa aking simple at masayang nakaraan. Ang mga ito ‘yung nagbibigay sa akin ng pagkakataon na maging musmos muli. Ibinabalik nila ako sa mga pagkakataong magkakasama ang aming pamilya.

Mahalaga sa atin ang mga bagay na makakapag-ugnay sa atin sa nakaraan. Ang mga ito ang nagpapakita at nagpapaalala sa atin kung sino talaga tayo.

Kailangan nating magbalik tanaw sa nakaraan paminsan-minsan para ipaalala sa atin kung sino tayo at sa gayo’y maharap natin ng mabuti ang mga darating na pagsubok sa magulong mundo.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For Cochise and Beebom

Cochise was my classmate every year from first year to fourth year high school in La Salle Greenhills. We both then went on to the same University, UP, entered the fraternity together and even became student leaders of the University of the Philippines in the early 80s,

We were student leaders at a time when being such could mean a one way ticket to either a shallow grave or the military stockade. Cochise and I were high school and college buddies. Beebom too was a good friend from College. Hence the news that the mastermind of their gruesome deaths, Mr. Manalili, had been granted executive clemency came as a near shock.

How could a convicted killer, who masterminded the brutal slaying of two young and promising individuals (Beebom based on testimonies was repeatedly raped before being killed)be so easily given clemency by President Arroyo? Where is justice in this case? I ask the President how she would feel if Cochise or Beebom happened to be her son or daughter? How would she feel if their killers where granted executive clemency for their gruesome, dastardly murders?

At a time when confidence and faith in our sytem of justice and in the rule of law have been adversely affected by a string of corruption scandals, now this.

We will do what we can to try and correct this injustice. We cannot simply watch. We cannot simply accept. We will not simply stand idly by as terrible things take place all around us.

I wish for my children to inherit a future that is so unlike the present. A future where justice is the rule rather than the exception. A future where they can be safe and secure. A future with a prosperous, vibrant and life enhancing economy. A future that they, that we all deserve.

Together with many others willing to act, willing to respond, willing to risk, willing to dare, I will do what I can to help bring the nation there.


Para kina Cochise at Beebom

Kaklase ko si Cochise mula first year hanggang fourth year high school sa La Salle Greenhills. Sabay kaming nagkolehiyo sa University of the Philippines at magkasamang pumasok sa fraternity.

Kapwa rin kami naging lider estudyante (sa UP) sa kaagahan ng dekada otsenta. Ito ‘yung panahon na ang mga lider estudyante ay madalas napapahamak o ‘di kaya’y tinatanggalan ng kalayaan.

Matalik kaming magkaibigan ni Cochise noong high school at college. Si Beebom ay mabuti ko ring kaibigan noong nasa kolehiyo.

Kaya naman ako’y nagulat at nanlumo noong malaman ko na nabigyan ng executive clemency ang utak sa kanilang malagim na pagkamatay.

Ano ang dahilan para bigyan ng clemency ni Pangulong Arroyo ang isang convicted killer na siyang utak sa brutal na pagpatay ng dalawang kabataan na dapat sana’y may magandang kinabukasan? Ayon din sa mga testimonya, si Beebom ay makailang ulit na ginahasa bago piñata.

Nasaan ang hustisya sa kasong ito? Ano kaya ang mararamdaman ng Pangulong Arroyo kung nagkataong si Cochise at Beebom ay kaniyang anak? Ano ang mararamdaman niya kung mabibigyan ng executive clemency ang taong nagging dahilan ng kanilang malagim na kamatayan?

Nagdedeliryo na nga ang tiwala ng mamamayan sa ating justice system dahil sa kabi-kabilang corruption scandals sa pamahalaan, pagkatapos ito pa ang kasunod.
Gagawin natin ang lahat para maitama ang ganitong klaseng injustice. Hindi p’wedeng manood na lamang tayo. Hindi p’wedeng basta na lamang natin ito tatanggapin. Hindi p’wedeng wala tayong gawin habang mga kahindik-hindik na bagay ang nagaganap sa ating paligid.

Nais kong ang bukas na mamanahin ng anak ko ay hindi katulad ng kasalukuyan. Bukas kung saan ang hustisya ang nangingibabaw at hindi napapailalim. Bukas kung saan sila ay ligtas. Bukas na may saganang ekonomiya. Bukas na dapat nating maranasan lahat.
Sa tulong ng maraming iba pa na handang tumulong at makibaka, gagawin ko ang lahat upang madala an gating bansa sa bukas na aking binabanggit.