Nanay

Nanay secretly slipping one of my graduation photos in the pocket of her daster when she thought I was not looking. That one will always be remembered.

Nanay.

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My sister broke the news. Kuya followed shortly.

I don’t know how to react.

I tried to push it aside. I have to be strong.

Then Kuya sent another message. “Naikiss kita kanina kay Nanay.”

And that opened the floodgates of my eyes.

Nanay.

I will miss you buying cola for us every time we drop by for a visit.

I will miss you giving me Php100 every Christmas even if I’ve already started working. You always insist.

I will miss you worrying about the high cost of electric bill hence you turning off the TV and fan when you think we were not looking.

I will miss you eating dinner at 4 PM.

I will miss you going to bed at 6 PM.

I will miss you shooing us to go home when the clock strikes 3 PM. “Gagabihin na kayo sa daan.”

I will miss you when you say “Mangain ka ng santol dyan. Manguha kayo ng santol ahoy. Mag-uwi kayo ng langka. Dalhin niyo na ito.”

I will miss eating your shrimp recipe.

I will miss you every time you ask me when will I get married then a few hours later saying don’t get married too early.

I will miss a lot of things about you Nanay.

But more than anything else, I will miss YOU.

It is painful to see you go especially at this age when memories are so instilled that forgetting is next to impossible.

But just like anything in this world, we know there is a time for everything.

God said it is time.

Thanks for being our Nanay. You did such a great job.

Kiss Tatay for us. Until we meet again.

We love you. I love you.

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Unusual Calmness

Where do I begin?

Silence.

Quiet acceptance.

There are things in life that shock us to our core and make us ask difficult questions which have no answers.

But then there are things in life that we graciously accept, not because we admitted defeat, but because deep within we know that that’s just the way it is.

Eventually for everybody, that’s just the way it is.

I have been trying to converse with the self. The I and the Me. Nobody wants to do the talking. Both are very quiet, pensive, brooding.

It is still a loss, says this person who has the front row seat now in my life.

I know. It is a loss. But I am surprised with the self. Instead of wailing and crying and questioning and bargaining, the self was still.

I can even say peaceful.

I don’t know where this foreboding feeling is coming from. There is sadness of course. But more than that, what is overpowering above all else is calmness.

“At the end of it all, the only question that matters is that did she have a happy life?”, the person asked.

I cannot answer that. Nobody can answer that.

But remembering those quick, stolen times when I caress her, tease her and share all my stupid stories to irritate her and make her laugh, I want to believe that even for a moment I made her happy.

“Lespoy, kelan ka mag-aasawa?” she always asks every time I bid her goodbye from my visit.

“Nanay! Ano ba?! Ang ganda ko kaya. Wag kang mag-alala. Bata pa ko. Tsaka bukas na lang! Gabi na kaya!” Then I will give her a hug and a kiss, bring her hand to my forehead and then quickly run to the car.

She will always stay by the gate to see me off. She’ll wave. I’ll wave. I’ll honk the horn, she’ll close the gate and then I will speed off.

My Sister is 27

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I can’t believe you are 27.

27 sounds old.

Don’t you think so? It kinds of leave a bad taste to the mouth.

Where has all the years gone? It was only recently that you had your 18th birthday, then 20th, then 25th. And now 27!!! It is getting closer and closer to 30. Yikes.

But 27 is a good number. It was for me. And since you are my sister and we are so alike (except that I have more patience than you) I hope my luck with that number rubs into you.

I was 27 when a lot of new and wonderful things happened in my life.

I know you have a lot in the running on your 27th too. I wish that all those experiences wisen you and make you appreciate more life. I know you do appreciate it more now after what your 26th has taught you.

But life just gets better and better. At times when we think we are in a slump and nothing is going right or nothing is going the way we imagined it, we get surprised by life and we can just smile because of the good fortune that landed on our feet.

I wish you all the best on your 27th and I hope it teaches you things that will mark your life so when you look back, you can say that it was 27 which did this to you.

I will be missing your birthday dinner but my thoughts will always be there.

Happy birthday girl. I am looking forward to our next great adventure.

And as a birthday gift you can stay for 3D2N in the most beautiful and luxurious resort in North Sumatra for free. See. I am not that kuripot as what you always claim. :p

I miss you.

P.S.

And did you notice how many times I wrote the number 27? Just so you’ll get used to it. πŸ™‚ It can take quite a while you know. It is always easier and sweeter to say you are 25. :p

Babi Panggang Karo

It was a Wednesday. The bosses allowed me to escape from the hills and gave me a few days off.

I have a flight to catch the following day and with the distance of my hills to the nearest airport, I have to go down a day before.

I was with other colleagues in the car. They are going back to the city too. Lunch time and we decided to have a rest from the 4-hour drive. We stopped by KFC. They know I love KFC (only because there is no McDonald’s in sight).

As they were having their cigarette break before we walked into the fastfood, one colleague asked me if I would like to try one of the specialties that North Sumatra offers. The place is not so hygienic but serves good food, he said.

I am not picky. I can eat anything. I love new experiences. So we forgot about KFC.

We ended up in BPK.

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BPK stands for Babi Panggang Karo. Babi means pork. Panggang means grilled. Karo is one of the ethnic groups in North Sumatra.

When I saw the place, I smiled. This is a place where my Dad and I would not cringe to eat in. My Mom, brother and sister, well, that’s another story. πŸ™‚

According to Wikipedia, Babi panggang Karo and Babi panggang Toba are two similar dishes made by the Christian Batak Toba and Batak Karo of North Sumatra. Pigs are slaughtered and used in their entirety to make babi panggang – bones for a clear soup, meat (including offal) to be grilled, and blood for a dipping sauce. The three dishes are served with plain rice and a sambal andaliman, made from fresh sichuan peppers.

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I am familiar with bones being used for soup and meat being grilled. But blood as the dipping sauce? I almost died (not). I am used to soy sauce and kalamansi or vinegar with crushed garlic.

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I was a little bit hesitant to try that blackish sauce but then I remember we have Dinuguan back home which is a thick soupy dish made from the blood of the pig mixed with meat from pig’s face and its innards. And I eat Dinuguan with passion so who am I to be scared of this small bowl of blackish dip with pepper in it? It should be child’s play.

Still. πŸ™‚

The experience was interesting.

First, they served steaming rice with a bowl of salty clear soup and Camote tops. Only a spoon was given and a bowl of water where you can wash your hands. The spoon is meant to be used only for the soup. The rest of the meal you have to eat by hand.

People love to eat with their hands in Indonesia. That same bowl of water will be used later on to wash away the remnants of food that clung to the hands.

I am not up to it that moment. I asked for a fork.

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As the Babi (pork) was being grilled, I asked my colleagues what they use to marinate the meat. Do they dip it in special sauce or do they just put salt and pepper? They said none of the above. No condiment whatsoever is added. The meat is just grilled directly. Say what?

I hope the meat was washed before that. I remember how my parents always talk about meat hanged by the roadside and sold to people. They were saying how much bacteria sticks to the meat from the dust and other elements of the earth.

I have seen a lot of exposed, “unprotected” hanging pig’s head and meat on the way to the BPK resto. Is that where the meat came from? OMG. No Monterey? Yikes.

So the grilled meat arrived. I can still see some pig’s hairs sticking out. Ok.

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My lunchmates started digging in and eating the food passionately. I was a bit slow. I asked if they sell cola. Grilled meat is good with cola. They have none. But the owner of the shop was nice and bought me a bottle from the nearest sari-sari store or small store by the road side. Very much like the Philippines. The cola was not cold. I asked for some ice. The owner came back with some irregularly crushed ice. I wonder where she got it. I should not think too much.

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The grilled meat with no condiments in it didn’t taste much. And I love tasty food. So I did it. I dipped my meat in the blood sauce.

I think I enjoyed it. The thick soupy blood mixed with the finely shredded hot chilis added extra flavor. Interesting.

The salty soup and the Camote tops completed the meal with my iced cold cola.

I must say it was a great first BPK experience.

But with all that smoke getting into the shop from the griller, the noise of the cars passing by the road and the incomplete cutlery here and there, this place is not for the fussy eater or the weak at heart.

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But we only live life once so what the hell.

Experience everything, I always tell myself. It will be worth it. πŸ™‚

One Very Brave Girl

It’s 11:03 PM and I should be sleeping. Or maybe not.

I just had dinner with the usual suspects plus two more. I and another colleague excused ourselves after two hours of chit chatting. Tomorrow is another day. We need to rest.

But then I was lured to check some of my SNS and check out updates aka gossips.

I realized I haven’t blogged much. A lot of entries are running into my head actually but I never got the chance to really sit with it.

Ok. So maybe I will do a couple tonight before I hit the bed.

New Year!

Where has the new year gone? I never even got the chance to really have a one on one with 2012 and say how thankful and grateful I am for the year. I never even got the chance to recount the things that the year has brought me. I never even got the chance to formally say goodbye.

And then here comes

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Celebrating New Year here in Indonesia was way way bearable than celebrating Christmas. Everybody was just in a festive mood and was so busy running here and there to make sure that everything is set accordingly. I fooled myself not to think about home.

I danced the year away.

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I remember I have to rush back after dinner of the 31st to my room to change and attempt to do all those rituals that I have been doing the past sane years of my life. Wear something polka dots, place money in my pockets, jump when the clock strikes 12.

I did not manage to do a single thing. The only polka dots I have in my wardrobe is a pair of socks I bought in one grocery store in Sydney. I slipped them on up until I decided to kick them out. They don’t feel right. I decided to wear jeans so I can put all my noisy coins in my pocket which will bring me good luck and more money for the new year as what somebody made me believe when I was young but then I decided that I will go with tights. When the clock struck twelve I was so mesmerized with the fireworks which ran for about 15 minutes that I forgot to jump and was too late when I realized what I have done.

It was an interesting new year. I was far away from people who matters. I was actually alone.

I was surrounded by a lot of people but I know I was alone.

People were hugging and kissing and I just smilingly watched them and wished them well. Afterwards I tried to peel people away from each other so I can hug and kiss them individually and wish them a great year.

It was the first time that I had this kind of New Year.

I remember I also celebrated a new year away from home before. I was living in Turkey then and the way they celebrate the day is unimaginable for an Asian like me. It was so quiet. We were in the living room watching TV waiting for the clock to strike 12. And then when the old year was gone, we stood up and gave each other a kiss and a hug and then off we went to bed. It was simple and intimate yet very lovely.

As I quietly slipped away from the well-wishers as they relish the last few seconds of the fireworks and started my walk back to the party, I felt like I was floating. Here I am in a country where I don’t really know anybody, celebrating a festive holiday meant to be shared with family and loved ones yet here I am feeling like it was the most normal thing in the world.

I was ok.

And then it hit me.

I was sitting with some colleagues earlier that day when the discussion veered towards me. They were asking if it is ok with my parents that I am here and they are there today. That question did not deserve an answer. I just gave a weak smile.

And then he said the words.

You are a very brave girl.Β 

Yeah, I think that’s it. There was a lightness in me that midnight. I have made myself proud.

The me walking back to the party ready to dance the night away alone, have fun, drink and laugh with total strangers ready to face the new year with everything it has prepared for me is indeed one very brave girl.

2012 and the other years which passed have made me into this.

Yes 2013, I am ready. Bring it on.