It’s good to be home. My flight from Brisbane via Darwin was smooth and comfy. Our PAL Airbus 320 looked brand new and everything on board worked!
I watched “Frozen.” Delightful! I felt like a child again. The music and story fill your heart with hope that the world can change for the better. It has an old-fashioned plot, the fight of good versus evil (with a twist) and good wins out, big time.
Bravo to kababayan Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson Lopez for their award winning music. “Let it Go” without a doubt deserved the Oscar. But I loved “For the First Time in Forever.”
I called the daughter of an old friend. Her marriage recently went kaput and I wanted to reach out with whatever I could: words of wisdom I thought would be appropriate; a moment for prayer perhaps? She was busy but sent me an e-mail that night.
With her permission, here is part of it. My comments are in parentheses.
“Hi, Tita. Thank you for your concern. You probably have answers for most if not all my questions. (I wish I did, but I don’t.) But I realize that in a predicament such as mine, no one can do your hurting or your crying for you. I must grit my teeth, suck in as much air as I can and lunge forward. (Good start.)
“The limbo I find myself in today is dark and frightening. But as I accept the inevitable, I can see some shreds of light. (It gets brighter, promise.)
“I am filled with memories of a relationship that once was the be-all and end-all of my existence. I now have the courage to examine not what I lost but what I have kept intact, my self-respect. (Hats off to you!)
“This is not new. I have been on this threshold before and am familiar with the sensation of teetering on the brink of a ravine. Each time I have drawn back. The plunge is scary. But I know I must take it. I need to bite the bullet to survive. It has to be quick, no second thoughts, and no looking back. (Pull off the Band-Aid!)
“I am tired of the same old quarrels. I have put up with the infidelity and lying for too long. I can’t buy the line of this being a passing fancy, or just a phase in his midlife crisis, a man thing, the hunger for reassurance, a macho desire to know that he is still ‘in the game.’ (Game over?)
“How much am I expected to take just for the sake of the children or the opinion of family and friends? We have put on such a good show for so many years. Now it will be difficult to explain that we were not happy. People may not believe us. (Does it matter?)
“Our 40th anniversary is in November. And here I am, ready to bail out. The truth is that I have run out of patience. I am all out of smiles. My heart is broken. I cannot find enough plaster to patch up the cracks. There are just too many and they are deep and I am tired. It is easier to let it all come tumbling down.”
It saddens me to see the ruins of what once was a beautiful relationship. Last I heard the couple was headed for a quick and quiet divorce, out of the country of course. I wish them a future with no regrets. Is there such a thing?
Should she have stayed and braved the storm? Perhaps. Who knows if a safe haven was just around the bend? I guess now they will never know.
What happened? Life did.
Across the aisle
On the flight home with me was a handsome young man from Samar. He looked excited, almost emotional, as we approached Manila. We chatted.
An engineer, probably in his late 30s, he is married, with two small children, and has not been home for several years. He lives and works in New Zealand and loves it. He talked about the great life he is building for himself and his family and about the security he found after he made the painful decision to leave home in search of greener pastures.
I marveled at his enthusiasm. His eyes sparkled when he talked about future promotions—based on merit, he was quick to add, and not on whom he knew. He described his work benefits, his dreams and how he looks forward to more opportunities. His excitement was contagious. I told him I wished we could harness that energy for the good of our own country.
His smile faded for a moment. He said: “I wish I could. But I want something better than this for my children.” He pointed at a newspaper beside him on the seat. The headlines listed the names of senators and congressmen involved in the pork scam. I felt shame.
“With all due respect, ma’am” he said, “The sickness of corruption is too deeply ingrained. It has been there for generations. One man alone, no matter how honest he may be, cannot change the system. I see no future there for me or my family.”
Feeling helpless I argued, “But this is why we need people like you, with your fire and your values.”
Suddenly all the patriotic and idealistic words I wanted to say felt like ashes in my mouth before I even uttered them. How does one communicate hope?
In his eyes I thought I saw the faces of my grandchildren. Instinctively, I put my arms around him and wished him Godspeed. And I meant it, with all my heart.