Saturday, 26 December 2020

Disyembre



Pagkilala kay Daria Obymaha na kumuha ng litrato para sa Pexels


Natatandaan ko ang isang araw sa Disyembre mga ilang taon na ring nagdaan. Kabuwanan ko noon, ipapanganak ko ang bunso namin ni Lex. Naghihintay na ako na maghilab ang aking sinapupunan, umiksi ang pagitan ng bawa't hilab, senyales na malapit na akong manganak. Handa na ako noon. Nailagay ko na sa isang malaking bag ang ang gagamitin ko sa maiksing panahon ko sa opsital, kasama na rin ang mga lampin at isang malambot na kulay rosas na tela gagamitin ng aming magiging supling ni Lex.
Nang bumilis at tumindi na ang paninikip at paghilab, sinabihan ko na si Lex na kailangan na naming pumunta sa ospital. Sumakay na ako sa Tamaraw FX na pinaandar ni Lex at binaybay na namin ang kahabaan ng Quezon Avenue.
Mabilis ang panganganak ko. Nang sinabi ng doktor na “push”, kahit hindi ko maramdaman ang ibabang bahagi ng katawan ko dahil sa epidural na itinurok sa akin, “push” na rin ang ginawa ko. Dapat pala kasama sa pagsasanay sa mga manganganak yun, ang piliting itulak ang sinapupunan kahit walang maramdaman.

Nang marinig ko na ang unang iyak ng aking supling, doon na ako napanatag. Narito na ang supling ko.

Inilapit na ng mga nars sa aking dibdib ang aking supling. Bigla siyang tumahimik nang yakapin ko siya at alalayan upang sumispsip ng unang patak ng gatas sa kanyang labi.
Naramdaman kong umagos ang pagmamahal sa aking katauhan papunta sa kanya.
Ganito na rin marahil ang nararamdaman ng maraming ina habang kalong-kalong ang kanilang supling. Umaapaw ang pagmamahal na ubod ng banayad na ibinalot nila sa kanilang mga anak.
Sa bawa't yakap natin sa ating anak. gusto nating maiparamdam ang lalim ng ating pagmamahal. Ipaglalaban natin siya laban sa kapahamakan.
Sumagi sa isipan ko ito nang napanood ko ang video kamakailan lamang. Makikita sa video ang isang ina na mahigpit na yinayakap ang kanyang anak. Pilit kinukuha ng isang hindi unipormadong pulis and kanyang anak dahil sa pagpapaputok niya ng boga. Hindi alintana ng ina ang galit na mukha at laki ng pangagatawan ng pulis. Hindi niya kayang iwan ang kanyang anak sa kamay nito.
Ilang minuto ang nagdaan hanggang nagkaroon ng palitan ng mga salita. Binunot ng pulis ang kanyang baril at kinalabit ang gatilyo sa ulo niya at kasunod sa anak niya. Hindi na niya nakuhang makita ang mukha ng anak niya bago siya bumagsak sa lupa. HIndi na nila nakuhang magpaalam sa isa't isa.
Nakakalungkot isipin ang ganitong pangyayari ngayong Kapaskuhan kung saan inaalala ang pagsilang kay Kristo ng kanyang Ina na pinaghirapan siyang ilayo sa kapahamakan.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Pananggalang ng Isang Ina


Hindi madali para sa akin ang matagalang paggamit ng face shield habang naka-face mask ako. Hirap akong huminga nang maayos. Kailangan kong punasan ito sa tuwina kapag nagkakaroon ng panlalabo ito, gawa na rin ng hininga kong gustong kumawala sa dalawang magkapatong na pananggalang. Habol-hininga ako sa pagpasok sa sasakyan upang matanggal ang mga ito at makahinga ng maayos.

Mas mahirap, ‘di hamak, ang sitwasyon ng mga medical frontliners natin, dahil bukod sa face mask at face shield, kailangan nilang magsuot ng PPE o personal protective equipment. Mukhang napakainit sa katawan ang pagsusuot nito, pero kailangang gawin para hindi mahawahan ng sakit.

Naalala ko lang ito nang mapanood ko ang video tungkol sa isang inang detenido na nakasuot ng ng PPE bukod pa sa face mask at face shield sa pagbisita ng burol ng kanyang tatlong-buwang sanggol. Nabigyan rin siya ng tatlong oras na palugit para masilayan sa huling pagkakataon ang ang sanggol na binawian ng buhay na hindi siya kapiling.

Nakasuot siya ng PPE, naka-face mask, naka-face shield, naka-posas ang dalawang kamay na naka-gwantes at bantay-sarado ng mahiigt apat na pung mga pulis at mga guwardya ng bilangguan. Kumpleto ang pananggalang niya.

Hindi siya pinayagang mayakap ang anak; hindi na rin niya makuhang punasan ang luha sa kanyang mga mata. Hindi niya alintana ang init at alinsangan ng panahon noon, ang mas mahalaga ay makasama niya ang kanyang anak sa napakaiksing panahong ibinigay sa kanya.

Pero oo, malamang na pag-uwi niya sa Manila City Jail, ligtas siya at mga kasamang detenido sa pandemya.



Sunday, 15 November 2020

My Sister's Story

I left our home, many years ago,  to become a full-time youth organizer. My sister, Minx, gave me this copy of her account during that particular time as her gift to me in memory of our mom. I am sharing segments of her story, with her permission - Amy Muga



The fire trees were on their last blooms. Their crowns are aglow with flame-like blossoms not unlike the dying embers of campfires. The golden shower tree swayed in the wind. Its grapelike cluster hung like droplets of golden sunshine.

She was looking thru the window as she folded my sister's clothes. Staring in fact yet oblivious to the explosion of colors gifted by the trees she has planted and tended from seed.

"Do you know where she went?" My mother's voice was reeking with sadness.

"No, I have no idea."

"We have to search for her."

I let out a deep sigh for I could foretell what our arduous search would entail. I have seen it before. Parents, brothers, sisters, lovers of friends who are missing. 

First, the police stations - have you picked up anybody violating the curfew? Then we make the trek to the Office of the Task Force Detainees - any new faces at Bicutan or Pag-Asa or any of the myriad of political prisoner camps strewn around the city? Next, the convents-the nuns are very active in hiding people wanted by the government. And finally, the morgues, to look for salvaging victims left by the waysides for the flies to feast on, dead hollow eyes unseeing the violence that was visited upon them.

Nanay's usually ramrod straight back, was slightly slumped, carrying an unseen burden. She started to quietly mouth the mysteries of an imaginary rosary.  Imaginary, for rosaries as well as crosses, saints Statues, and prayer books are banned in our household. Though she was born to a very old Catholic family, she married my father.  His family was one of the original members of the indigenous Protestant religion in the country. And to marry a member you have to give up your own religion and convert.

"Of course, there will be changes. Your sister, she has always disapproved of our Christmas parties..."

"Nanay. are you happy?" I once asked.

"I can't recall ever hearing you laugh. "

She gave me the look. The look that seems to say,

'Here you go again, thinking too deeply, analyzing things best left alone.' 

"Laughing out loud is like tempting fate. What is important is being at peace."

She has seen so much and experienced a lot. She grew up as one of the daughters of a political clan in the North and violence has peppered her family's history. An uncle was assassinated as he received the holy communion in Church.  In retaliation, a cousin burned down a whole village. The cries of widows and children left homeless can still be heard in the winds as you pass by Bantay.

She headed to Manila away from the violence never to return in more than 30 years. Her list of changes sounded like incantations, peace offerings to the gods. As if saying, I am willing to make changes, do all these just so I can have my daughter back.

"DO you think she will return?"

I dared not answer. All I have are useless, empty words. They hold no hope.

"Where should we start?" Her hands tentatively touching a lone hanging thread on my sister's shirt,  afraid that a slight pull might unravel my sister's whole existence.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

April Thoughts





I used to pride myself on knowing how to respond to challenging situations. Even if there may be times I do not know whether 
what I do makes a significant dent in changing a concern for the better, I do what is needed to the best of my ability. 


The past weeks made me feel like I'm walking on a deserted alley with an invincible enemy lurking around, ready to pounce given an opportunity. No one is exempt from the possibility of getting the virus. The elderly and those who have pre-existing health conditions are particularly at risk. I'm pre-diabetic; I have a wound that is taking too long to heal. It was when my husband, the most disciplined in our family regarding food and other health matters, came up with chills that I realized the virus may really hit any one of us at any time. Thankfully, he did not have any other symptoms, eventually getting better. 


I realized how important it is to draw up a plan if one of us may get sick or die because of the virus. Much as it is difficult, it is crucial and necessary to talk about these things so that the surviving family members would not be left confused and pained with their loved ones' death. Some of the questions that need to be discussed by the elders in the family are: 

Who shall bring the sick person to the hospital? How shall the sick be transported to the hospital? Who shall be in charge of the finances and getting the food for the dinner table? Who shall be the second-liner if the parents get sick? To whom shall the care of the minor children be entrusted?


The family unit must be united during this critical period. However, it is important to be compassionate and understanding with each other, given the stress that the situation brings to each member of the family. This is easier said than done. Many households are being pulled apart while living in the same house, given the pandemic's uncertainty


There were times that my husband and I got angry with each other during the past weeks. What was helpful for us was being open to each other about our concerns and allowing breathing space for resolving things. We realize that what matters at the end of the day is our commitment and love for each other and our family.


It is helpful to remind myself of the things I am thankful for despite the pandemic's uncertainty. Yes, we can still go outside of our house to get our much-needed sunlight. 

I appreciate dinner time in the family, where we can talk about things aside from developments on the pandemic. My husband and I take turns cooking batch meals, even if these are only variants of our favorite nilagang manok. 


It is likewise helpful for me to list down things that I can do, what my family can do given the quarantine. I follow a schedule since I am working from home. My husband is working on a mathematical model regarding trends in the COVID 19 pandemic in our country and Southeast Asia. I wonder if there is already a trend towards a much-diminished curve. My younger daughter is reviewing her notes as part of her online learning for her Circuit class. I read and collate materials on resiliency and mental health to share these with my students online. I am also part of a volunteer team that does counseling for frontline medical personnel. 


I'm thinking of my eldest daughter, who lives and works in another city, far away from us. I know that she's a kick-ass person who knows how to handle different situations. Her husband is also a good person who cares for her. I'm confident that they will manage this challenging period of living under the enhanced community quarantine, aka lockdown.


I pray that my relatives, especially my sister, are safe from harm's way. My sister is one person I deeply respect and care for. She has endured many difficult times in her life, survived, and thrived. She has given so much of herself to me and to many others.