It is almost Philippine Independence Day. Although in my heart I still celebrate July 4, 1946, as that one all-important day in our history, I have learned to mark June 12th as “the day” and to march with the rest of the nation.
At home our flag is up. It has been for quite a while now. I put it up in April last year for Araw ng Kagitingan and it has not come down since. We like it that way.
In our village, where the issue of opening more gates remains a hot topic, they started bringing out flags before the end of May.
Alas, they are tired-looking little things, hanging from nondescript pieces of wood attached ever so awkwardly on the light posts on one side of Madrigal Avenue. I think they are up in Acacia as well.
These flags look slightly larger than pennants. They don’t inspire you to salute or even wave them. It was the same last year: a huge one at the entrance and the smaller ones down the street. For some reason, seeing them does not give you that sudden “Hey, the flags are up!” happy feeling.
But I wonder. Is it really about the flags? Do they truly sag or are they a reflection of our flagging spirits? Is this display of amor a la patria just token patriotism and only for show? Sad.
Letting our hair down
We were seven ladies who lunched at Chef Jessie the other day. The food was excellent as usual. I love that it is bright and cheerful there, even on a rainy day.
We got together to celebrate friendship. Our host, who at 80 was the youngest at the table, ordered a bottle of white wine. She was the first to raise her glass to honor her sister, one of our best friends forever, who passed in October. There was a lump in my throat at the sound of crystal clinking in loving tribute.
We reminisced and laughed a lot as we compared notes on what we were taught about love and life in our super conservative convent schools. It was funny (and quite sad!) to realize how little we knew.
I remember that an hour-long “life course” (they refused to call it sex education) was offered a week before our high school graduation to prepare us for “love and marriage.” I was excused from class that day because at 16 they thought I was too young.
Someone remarked that I caught on fast enough, regardless. Naughty. I think I smiled. Unlike me, most of them married their first and only loves, until death did them part.
The lady beside me recalled that on her honeymoon she wondered why in the middle of the night her husband took long walks in the garden puffing on a cigarette.
We had funny notions back then. I once thought that kissing caused babies. Others believed the swimming pool myth and never swam with the boys.
Someone in the group thought she couldn’t wear a brassiere until she was married. Can you imagine that?
Talk became a little risqué and the wine made us loosen up. One lady described starched cotton unmentionables. We all remembered. What fun!
We compared the size of our families. And as I tried to keep the numbers straight, I realized how utterly and unbelievably blessed I am.
The new administration was briefly but passionately discussed. No one seemed inclined to ignore or brush it off. Everyone had an opinion. Whatever our dislikes, we all agreed that our new leaders be given every chance to lead and to succeed, that to wish them ill was counterproductive, in fact unpatriotic, and that, despite our years, it is our duty to watch carefully and speak up, and pray.
We discussed senior perks. I listened in awe as a cousin described life Down Under.
“If a bulb blows out at home, I am not allowed to climb a ladder. I call the power company and they change it for me. I guess if I fall it costs them more money than coming to my house to replace it themselves.” Amazing!
But no, they don’t get birthday cakes. I guess you can’t have it all.
It was heartening to know that despite our ages, we each still have the spirit to stand up and rally around the flag.
Yes, we are back to that. Ayala Alabang needs bigger ones, flags with more pizzazz.
And then, of course, there is that question about the gates. Will it ever happen?
Life’s lessons learned
I picked a few from a list written by the famous American Emmy award-winning journalist Andy Rooney. I can so relate. These are worth remembering.
“I have learned—
“That I wish I could have told my Mom that I loved her one more time, before she passed away;
“That money does not buy class;
“That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand;
“That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for;
“That life is tough but I’m tougher;
“That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it;
“That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular;
“That being kind is more important than being right;
“That love, not time, heals all wounds;
“That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”
Think about it.