Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lost and Found - Sacha

Maybe she’s not anymore, but when Sacha was very young, she was quite vain. She would choose only dresses that had matching bags, and she liked looking at herself in the mirror a lot. She also fancied jewelry, and would often play with my pearl necklaces.

Once, we were attending Sunday Mass when we noticed that Sacha left our pew and was nowhere in sight. John and I had to leave Ching Ching and Kathy with Yaya Ninfa to look for her. We found her, right away, as she did not go far, but we were amused by what we saw. Our youngest daughter, then maybe two or three years old, was checking her reflection on the church’s glass door. Her hands were over her head, and she was tiptoeing like a ballerina, completely oblivious of the solemnity of the church ceremony, or of her worried parents who were frantically looking for her.


Last weekend, John was invited to do editorial travel photography of a resort in Matabungkay (Batangas). I must admit that I don’t have fond memories of the place (of Matabungkay, not of the resort), and I hope that will change soon.

When Kathy was about five or six or seven (I don’t even remember exactly), and she was still known as “Ann Kay,” we took the family to the beach. The cleanest beaches were no longer in nearby Paranaque or Cavite, so that we had to drive about two or three hours to go to Batangas – Matabungkay, to be exact.  It was summer, so the beach was crowded with families frolicking in the sea and on sand, and there were food kiosks and ice cream carts right on the beach.

We were just a meter or two from the shoreline, and were having fun, jumping each time the wave came. When the wave passed, our heads would still be above water, so I did not think that it was unsafe.  I don’t remember who was paired off with Ching Ching and Sacha, but I was with Kathy. It was exciting to jump every time the wave came, and to anticipate the peak of the wave as the precise moment for us to jump. Kathy and I held hands, but I was not alarmed even if we didn’t, because we were in the shallow part of the sea, and we were taller than the water level, without the wave.

But, suddenly, after a wave passed, I could not see Kathy. I looked in the water, as maybe she lost her balance and could not stand, but I could not see her. Frantically, I called out – shouted - her name. When she did not answer or reappear even as I kept shouting her name, John who was farther away, and people around me, even if they did not know us, soon became alarmed and joined me in searching for Kathy. I was in tears, and my heart was pounding, but between sobs and prayers, I still called out “Anne Kay,” “Anne Kay,” “Anne Kay.”

I remained in the water, nervously and anxiously surveying my surroundings for a glimpse of Kathy, when John shouted that he had found her on the beach. Running while looking up to the sky to say  “Thank you, Lord,” I rushed to her.  She was smiling, unmindful of the stir that she had caused. I was just so relieved that I did not have the energy to scold her or to even ask where she went (I’m sure I did scold her later, and I did ask her why she left the water). I just wanted to order her to come with me to shower up and get dressed – right away!  After that harrowing experience (to me anyway, as she seemed unperturbed), I just wanted to make sure she didn’t get near or in the water again. Not again that day, anyway.

Seeing her in dry clothes, I relaxed a bit and no longer insisted on keeping a tight grip on her. But in a few seconds after I let her go – she was gone again! This time, John spotted her right away – where he found her the first time – talking to the ice cream vendor.  

That’s what took her out of the water, in the first place. She told us that she saw the ice cream cart and the food kiosk. She did not think she needed to tell me, but since she did not have any money, she was going to go back to the sea to look for me. The beach was crowded, and the shore was wide, and well, she did not find me.

It was not a big deal to her. It was to me.

We have not gone back to Matabungkay in the 30 years since then, and I feel that maybe, I need to replace my memory of that place to something more positive and pleasant. Indeed, It’s time to go back. J

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Learning A Language

I have two granddaughters, the older, “G,” is two-and-a-half years old, and the other, “A” is one-and-a-half. While babies’ coos and babbles are cute, observing how they acquire real and recognizable words is simply amazing.

The older one has learned to string together words to form intelligible (and I can proudly proclaim) intelligent sentences; the younger one is repeating every word that she is hearing.

Names, including nicknames and terms of endearment (papa, mama, nanay, tatay, wowo, lola, opie, omie, each other’s names, John – which can be confusing since both their father and one grandfather, and incidentally, some titos and kuyas are also named John), tenses (“did you,” “will you…”), time concepts (today, yesterday, last night, this morning), relationships (sisters, mother, daughters, aunts), similar and opposites (high, low, old, young), sizes (big, small, tall, short, thin, fat), colors (oh, all kinds of colors, including purple and fuchsia), things in the heavens (clouds, sun, moon, stars), food and drinks, household items, cooking terms, machines, parts of a car, names of animals, safety terms, and many others are being explored and imitated.

(Note: If I were a full-time grandmother, I would count/measure their vocabulary levels at different ages. Sadly, I am not).

The other week, as we were coming into the city from a trip to Subic Bay, both children were exhausted, and crying. While the younger one could only cry and cry out “mama,” “mommy” and even “nanay,” my older granddaughter was articulating her frustration. She was insisting that she wanted to go home. We told her that we were indeed on our way home, but that she had to be patient if we could not get home right away, as traffic was bad. She said, with the irritation obvious in her tone of voice, “I don’t like traffic.” (She has not learned the word “hate,” thanks to her parents who try hard not to introduce her to such words). We laughed (which may not have been appropriate), and chorused, “We don’t like traffic, either.” “Those who don’t like traffic, raise your hand,” someone in the car piped in, and we all raised our hands. I tried to amuse her by saying, “Let’s say “good-bye” to traffic.” “Good-bye, traffic.” She repeated, “Good-bye, traffic.” I said, “Good-bye, bus,” and she echoed, “Good-bye, bus.” Good-bye, jeep.” “Good-bye, jeep.” Good-bye, car.” “Good-bye, car.” “Good-bye, building,” I continued with the litany of things we were seeing.  “Good-bye, post.” “Good-bye, traffic light.” “Good-bye, pedestrians,” and she asked, “Lola, what’s ‘pedestrians,’” and I pointed to the people crossing the street. “Good-bye, man in yellow.” “Good-bye, Toyota car.” And soon, we were out of the traffic jam, and rolling along.

Everyday, I am awed by the many words that they are learning, and the confidence they are gaining in saying them. The 1-1/2 year old is emphatic when she says “No!” and for emphasis, repeats “No, no, no, no!” She also expects us to understand that to her anything to drink is “juice,” even when she would say “water.” But the older one? When asked by her papa if she wanted water, she nonchalantly said, “Sparkling, please.” Whoa!

The other day, we were eating at a place where food attendants accepted orders at the counter. We placed our orders, chose a table and waited.  “G” left the table, walked to the counter and talked to the attendants. We could not quite hear what she was saying. After two or three minutes, she went back to the counter, talked again to the attendants, and then walked to the side of the counter. We saw her pointing to a high chair. One attendant dutifully brought the high chair to our table, and “G” said to “A,” “A_____, sit on the high chair!”

Her younger sister would not sit on the high chair, so “G”, stared at the empty high chair. Even though she didn’t like being strapped to a high chair herself, she climbed into it. We figured that she realized that since she asked for the high chair, she should make sure that someone used it.

She was not just learning language, but the responsibility that goes with using it.

Pardon me if I am rambling. I’m just a proud grandmother!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Where'd You Go, Leonardo?

Recently, I attended a creativity workshop called “Where’d You Go, Leonardo?” It was designed to help me (and a few others ) to take the bold step of finding the artists within us and to silence our inner critics, so that we could be comfortable and confident in accepting our artist selves.

A week or two after attending such a workshop, Oliver, our facilitator, followed up with this email:

How is everyone? It was  great to meet all of you at our first WHERE'D YOU GO , LEONARDO Workshop ! 

More importantly, how is  your Inner Artist  these days? 
Are you listening to him/ her? 
What is he / she telling you ? 
How is your intuition or Inner teacher guiding you ? 
Is your Inner Critic easier  to handle? 
How are you bringing more art into your daily life? 

We would love to hear feedback about your artistic journey ! any questions, concerns, stories, insights and discoveries and developments are welcome ! Just email through this address. 

Here’s my reply:

Hi Oliver,

Thanks for following up with me, and helping me remember that there is an Inner Artist in me that should be allowed to find expression.

For two Wednesdays now, I have been attending a Music Class in Southvale, near Daang Hari Road, just outside Ayala Alabang. There are ten other participating partners, and we have a wonderful teacher who sings and plays the piano. She also lends us – every student – two kinds of drums, egg-shaped rattles without handles, and tambourines.

For an hour and a half, we sing, tap on our thighs, clap our hands, snap our fingers, beat two kinds of drums with either our hands or rainbow colored drum sticks, dance while twirling scarves, sing songs while doing appropriate hand motions.  

We sing with gusto – sing softly or loudly, or mumble the words. Never mind if we are out-of-tune.

There are no critics in this class! Hallelujah!

The dances are not scripted or prescribed– we just follow the music, follow the beat of our own drummer, and dance as we please.

There is no right or wrong way. We are free to sing, dance, jiggle, joggle, tap, swing, sway, gyrate, prance, hum, act, pantomime, whistle, whirl, twirl, and act like there is no teacher, no censor, no judge. 

What a most inspiring, liberating and exhilarating experience it is to be in a music class with toddlers, where mothers and grandmothers are encouraged to be as free as any one, two or three year old whom they are accompanying in this class.

Yes, Oliver, this is how I am finding my Leonardo, and loving it. As I thanked my daughter for inviting me to my granddaughters’ music class for toddlers, I told her that in my next life, I will ask God for a singing voice, and enough grace so that I could dance with my grandchildren, but for now, I didn’t care – I’ll just sing and dance as if I were two. Years old, that is. J