Planning life did not come until after I had upped and left my first marriage. Slowly but surely, it began to dawn on me: from hereon I would have to be responsible for myself. I had crossed into my 40s.
My parents, to say the least, were quite disappointed in their pride and joy, the daughter who, until then, had done everything expected of her. With simple needs, I thought I hadn’t done badly; indeed, I thought I had taken care of myself adequately and, all things considered, my children, too.
After the tenants’ lease expired on the house I got for myself from the separation, I decided to sell it. The condo unit I was renting was simply too small to share with my three boys—my daughter was at Boston University, finishing her Masters. It was not the best time to sell, but, already more than triple what we had spent for the property, the proceeds were enough for me to buy two houses, one for living in and one for renting out, in fair locations.
Best laid plans
Thirty years later, as planned, and in my late 70s, I sold the last house, which had served Vergel and me and the children well, and bought the medium-priced condo Vergel and I had been living in since the turn of the millennium, in the business center of Makati, walking distance to everything we reckoned we needed in old age: hospital, church, shopping centers.
It seemed the most practical and economical way to live in old age. It would just be me and Vergel, with one good help. Barring serious health issues, we’d be coasting along, doing occasional leisure travel.
But as Robert Burns warned, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Indeed, more things are outside than within our control. Who could have foreseen this pandemic or Duterte, and happening yet at the same time in our lifetime? The least of our problems was postponing travels. People around us were losing livelihoods and getting sick—some loved ones died of COVID, or something else.
Suddenly, despite limited resources, we seemed to have more than most others, and there was some to share, which we do as occasions present themselves and consistently through priest friends feeding, sheltering, making life more bearable for many victims of poverty and other human as well as non-human injustices.
But with the bad also came welcome surprises. In lockdown, two more occupants joined us in our condo, a divorced, childless son and a granddaughter. All in all, a good arrangement, except space-wise. I couldn’t help but pine away for one of those houses I once owned—the extra bedrooms, not to mention the nice garden.
Well, there’s always a bright side, a solution, to every problem, as they say. Biden had beaten Trump, and there I somehow saw a hopeful similar prospect for us. A vaccine for everyone was the immediate hope.
Soon life as we knew it would be back and the hard lessons of the time just past would be appreciated.
But even before the government could begin to get its act together—presuming, of course, it had the ability—a deadly variant appeared.
And so here we are vaccinated with Sinovac, one of the more expensive brands with yet the lowest efficacy, locked down in our home prisons again, and our President not only carrying on with his ruthlessness and cluelessness, but preoccupied with keeping power, to escape accountability.
To compound our insecurities, we don’t see an enlightened response, a do-or-die spirit out of a purity of intentions in the one we look up to as our savior. We suddenly remember Cory and P-Noy, who cared less about numbers and only responded to the call to duty in desperate times.
To be fair, Leni’s situation is very different. She has every reason to be disheartened: after all the amazing work she has done as a sidelined and unfunded Vice President, the surveys don’t show enough appreciation coming.
Even more disturbing, the polls show ineptness, corruption and abuses under Duterte rewarded with good numbers. What Leni does not get in appreciation cannot be her problem, but our own: her virtues don’t seem to rub off on us enough.
As Ninoy Aquino said, we should not wait for a hero; we are the heroes we are looking for. Until we can find a cause for which we can rally and work together, let’s individually in our own fields of interests do what we can for country and one another.
The religious are leading the way, taking care of more than just spiritual needs, helping the poor keep body and soul together. Priests do it individually or through charity agencies, like Caritas. Patricia Non does it on her own, and now widely inspiring, initiative with her revived and improved community pantry.
Despite stingy state support, our athletes have shone at the Olympics, bringing home a harvest of gold, silver and bronze medals, the shadow of which we never saw, inspiring pride in a nation in despair.
Let’s come together, not for anything else but for principles and values, and, by such righteous cause, take matters into our own hands, and vote our consciences. Or, may God have mercy on us all!