We are halfway through the month of March. It is Lent. And we feel the summer heat. Gone are the balmy days and cool evenings in Alabang.
We now have heat alerts. The Department of Health has issued warnings about the effects of extreme temperatures and shows ways to avoid a heatstroke. Top order is to remain hydrated. Stay indoors. It is time for children, pets and the elderly to take cover.
On top of all that, there’s a water shortage.
I am making plans for an August to December trip to the US. I normally plan an April departure. But my granddaughter’s wedding is at the end of the year and I must be there.
My only misgiving is that I will be here for the midterm elections and the entire campaign circus, a scene I would be only too happy to miss.
But it may be interesting to watch the fireworks. Sadly, I hear that more violence is unavoidable. Is getting into government so enticing that one is willing to kill for it? It is difficult to understand. And yet, in every election, whether it is national or local, blood flows. And so does money. Candidates spend zillions to promote themselves. And how will they get all that money back? By hook or by crook, no doubt.
The serious thinking voter faces a huge dilemma. He must choose a candidate. But what is the basis for his choice? What are the standards he goes by? Who is deserving of his vote?
How can honesty not be the benchmark for our choices? And should we not, in the same breath, also look for integrity, an honorable character and good morals? Then add: God-fearing, ethical and respectable. That should strike many names off the list.
Lately, it seems that corruption and deceit have become acceptable. When did we stop hoping to do better? And why did we start settling for less?
Could it be that after years of endless disappointments, we have finally found it easier and more convenient to wallow in the sewer, no longer bothered or offended by the stench and shamelessness of it all?
Oh God, I hope not.
Last week, to escape the realities of the day, I made a date for tea with old New York friends at Makati Shangri-La. We reminisced about other special afternoons years ago, having high tea at the Stanhope Hotel, now called 995 5th Ave. It was an elegant moment we all looked forward to, at a time when we could hardly afford a hot dog from our Pakistani friend outside the Met across the street.
I was early so I sat at a low table with a garden view and treated myself to a cool drink and a little bit of people watching.
I like to imagine the back-story of the people I observe. So when an attractive twosome walked in looking smitten and holding hands, my creative juices got started. But when they sat at their table and whipped out their phones, the romance bubble burst. I felt like shouting at them, “Look up!”
My friends arrived. A music ensemble played dreamy tunes on the mezzanine above us. Five violins, one stand-up bass, a baby grand piano and a singer. Low key. Unobtrusive. We listened as we chatted. We avoided politics.
Tea was pleasant. The Pinoy tidbits were tasty. But alas, I have had better scones.
We talked about friendship, the kind that endures in good and bad times, that does not waver for political or pecuniary convenience. We spoke about loyalty, blind and otherwise and how it is often taken for granted or forgotten. I went home with a heavy heart.
I recently happened upon commentaries and critiques from readers here and abroad. One informed me that the billboards I once wrote about had been removed. Another asked me to write my thoughts on fads and fashions, hairstyles and tattoos.
At the risk of getting flak from young people close to my heart, allow me a brief ramble.
Torn denims and ragged hems are not elegant. I don’t like necklines that reveal too much. T-shirts and sneakers are never dressy.
I don’t like mohawks. Closely shaven sideburns make guys look weird. Facial hair must be groomed.
I love crew cuts. Salt and pepper hair looks great on older men. Throw away the black dye. Some men “comb over” to cover empty spots. Why? Don’t they know that bald is sexy?
I grew up in an era where women (men too) would do anything and pay any price to find the best skin creams, exfoliators, softeners and lotions to cleanse and pamper the skin and obtain an unblemished complexion.
I am therefore baffled that people will pay big money to have someone in the exotic art of skin decoration puncture their body with indelible ink.
My grandson tells me “Lola, it is an ancient art. It tells you the story of my life. Look, there you are with a flower,” and he shows me his arm.” I swallow the lump in my throat. He is 24. I love him.
Tattoos have been described as someone’s personal journal, or the outward conscience of the bearer. Some say tattoos are statements that need to be made, that they enhance the soul.