Friday, February 28, 2014

The Crossroad of My Life #OFW19




I enjoyed reading Ayah’s letter, kept in my wallet to read from time after time when I was on duty. I was happy with my success, which gave me strength and courage to face life with enthusiasm. But, the deluged came without warning.


One day, it was my day off; I went alone to “The David Plaza Hotel” – a three star hotel near our accommodation - to unwind after duty hours. It’s around six in the evening, I entered at the main entrance, directly to the red door with neon lights blinking all over it, as if saying, ”Welcome to the World of Happiness”. The bar was darkish, but I can clearly view the counter with beer dispensers, beer mugs, wine glasses and bottles. I sat at the counter and a Filipina bartender asked me for my order.

“Please give me a mug of Heineken beer and a bowl of salted peanuts.”

“Yes sir, a moment please.”

I felt a tap on my shoulder that triggered my reflexes to stand, and back away from where I was seated. It was Ronnie my assistant manager in the store.

“Sir, Whazzzup man!” while holding me tightly on both shoulders, that I moved backward to the counter; while the Filipina bartender handed my beer staring the scar on my forehead. I said in a low voice, “Ronnie, what are you doing? Please behave.” He only smiled, held me in my arms and seated on his table. He was alone and quite tipsy.

“Sir, I have a secret to divulge to you. This was from a reliable source. Some of the staff at the other branch was gaining a sideline.”

“What do you mean?”

Ronnie Ramirez whispered to me everything in details. He even named names of the staff and handed a small bottle, directly putting into my right hand.

“You know Sir, try this it’ll erase your loneliness. Keep it secret, you know the CID, always watching. I think you knew that the “night-shift-police” are roaming around in hotels during the night.”

I accepted the bottle and put it in my pocket. I went to the bathroom, fingered the bottle and read the label. It was a cough syrup and the precautions stated, “Don’t drive, it can cause drowsiness.” I spotted the bottle, it was half-full. I swallowed bottom's up, wrapped the empty bottle and put in a trash bin. I returned to the table and seated calmly. I consumed my beer totally. Ronnie ordered for another round, then another, and again, until I felt stunned with my whole being, not saying a word. My visions were becoming blurred; everything was abstract in size, moving, swaying, colliding, but small portion of my brain functioning normally. Still, I can hear and feel. I noticed Ronnie, smiling, still talking to me. He paid the bill. We went outside while Ronnie aiding me to walk. We were on the elevator heading upstairs.


“Sir, we’re going up, to the fifth floor at the Twilight Bar.” Ronnie’s joyfully teasing me.

“Twi-light-great-we’re-going-to-to-fly…?” I answered in a slurry tone while aping to fly with my hands on the air. I slumped down at the elevator floor. Ronnie helped me up.

“No, Sir, no, just another round, hang-up and listen to the music. There’s a music band up there. Come, see and feel the rhythm of the night, man! Enjoy!”

“Yes-enjoy-enjoy-the-rhythm…”

“Sir, walk normally…”

“Okay! Okay! Walk-normally…”

We entered at the Twilight Bar, seated near the right hand corner of the stage. Ronnie called the server and ordered two mugs of Forster draught beers with slices of lemon and peanuts. The band played the mellow rhythm song that made me felt tired, down and irritated. It was freaking me out and my energy collides inside of me.

“Ron, request-a-song-of-my-friend-Michael-Jackson…” I commanded Ronnie like a soldier.

Ronnie called the server for a piece of paper and pen. He wrote, “Please play a Michael Jackson song. Thank you!” He gave the piece of paper to the music band on stage. The band played, “Man in the Mirror of Michael Jackson.” After drinking my beer, I bolted on my seat. I was suddenly energized, all over me. I stood up shaking and wobbling heading to the platform. The band continued playing, not bothered by my presence. I danced with all the vigor on the stage. Customers and employees were laughing at me with my horseplay, and even the band. I perspired a lot that my polo shirt and denims were wet. I was a laughing stock at that moment, never realized for any consequences that I might befall.

“Sir, come down, come down the stage!” Ronnie shouted at me. I heard him but I continued my stunts on the stage. I grabbed the microphone and sang together with the music band. After which, “Okay, ladies and gentlemen, thank you, thank you!” Bowing on stage like it was the greatest performance in my whole life!

Ronnie came up at the stage, clamped and dragged me outside the Twilight Bar.

“Man, what are you doing? You’re such a jerk! You’re an embarrassing moron! Come! We’ll go home now!”



Ronnie influenced me more than I could expect. We experienced the glorious moments of our lives every night around Dubai after our duty hours and day-offs. Our friends multiplied, so did our party invitations. Ronnie and I spent lavishly for our caprices with no limits. We pretended to be rich in the eyes of our new friends. I disregard my job...my dream...my family...just for the sake of sustaining my “cough syrup” addiction...an addict in the eyes of my staff and my friends. My staff did not bother or afraid to report to the higher management about my addiction. They kept it a secret. I kept it as a secret too, even with my family back home.

Ronnie introduced me to his friend, Ryan Mallari. He got everything under his domain; wheels, money, freedom, food and anything he liked most. He’s the mover of my vices for free, and anything I wanted with my life at the moment in Dubai City.

Ronnie distanced himself but completely with us and I was hooked totally with the “cough syrup overdosed” addiction that my bank savings began to decline. I borrowed money from my friends, loaned from the company and even selling my personal things. I was disoriented; I could not think normally and my health slipped down steadily. I tried so hard to attend with my work, to have a salary at the end of each month to pacify my existence. I was helpless to the point that nobody cares for my well-being. Almost a year, my life took its toll when I received a letter from Ayah.


Eighteenth day of June 1987

Dear love,


How are you? You’re not telling me the truth? Why Marco what happened? Or, you’re out of your mind? You know, I couldn’t bear anymore to look with our children with nothing to eat. We were having our food once a day and I do not know what to do! Anne and Kent asked me about you. I can’t answer them truthfully.

Now, I am in debt here in our place. The mini market where I am getting our food summoned a police for not paying my bills, so I signed an agreement that I have to settle this thing next month.

Marc, please, sends money at once, I am begging for you, please…

Take good care always. Do not forget to pray, He was there waiting for you to knock.


Always,

Ayah


I cried for pity with myself and family, I cried for the bitterness in my heart, I cried for what I’ve done, I cried for my weakness and cried...following with my dreams but, I’ve muddled my chances, asked for forgiveness to the Lord, asking why I am easily influenced...why I am like this...a weakling...My heart bled...Ayah too...our children suffered...I have sinned...a mortal sin...

I telephoned my friend Ryan Mallari, “My friend Ryan, please, please help me now. I want some money for my family back home, just this time friend? “

“Sorry my friend Marco Fernando I don’t have neither.”

I was crying in my room, heard a knock, I dried the tears in my eyes. I composed myself hurriedly, so as nobody knows that I was crying and opened the door.

“Marco, what happened? I heard you crying, what’s the matter?” asked Ronnie while stroking my shoulder.

“Ronnie please helps me...read this...” I gave to him the letter and read it. “How much do you want?” he asked me.

“One thousand American dollars, Ron, can you lend me that much?”

“I didn’t have that much. I have a proposition for you. Did you remember what I told before, that the other branches were making money as their sideline?”

“Yes I remember.”

“Then, starting tomorrow or the next, we have to do it. Schedule me in your shift, so that we’re together. I have to do all the action, okay?”

“Okay,” answering him without hesitation.

I scheduled Ronnie together with my shift every day. The cashier connived with Ronnie to do the secret method of gaining cash out of the store products. After a week, Ronnie came to my room.

“Sir, Marc, I’ve got the one thousand American dollars, give me the address of Ayah Isabel, I’ll be the one to send to her at once. I have a friend in the Remittance Exchange.”

“Okay, here’s the address.” Ronnie wrote in a small piece of paper and left.

“Ron thanks!” I shouted at him while he left, filled with joy. I was glad that Ronnie will send the money. I was excited to know that Ayah Isabel can repay her debt. I trusted Ronnie since we worked together. Ronnie encouraged me again for the cough syrup addiction. We were doing our ploy to support our vices and I continued using the “cough syrup overdosed”.


TO BE CONTINUED###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Dubai: The City of Dreams #OFW18




“Calling all passengers bound to Dubai, you have twenty minutes left to board the plane, Thank you!” The announcement nailed in my ears with excitement, hope and fear.

That was the…

Thirtieth day of December 1985, Monday when I left my beloved country Philippines, bound to Dubai City carrying the reverie inside my heart. I am an Overseas Filipino Worker, OFW for short.

The International Fast Food Chain of Restaurants that hired us, as a group of 100 workers, to manage the stores in different places within Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quain, Al Ain, and Ras Al Khaimah. Everyone was assigned in the whole of United Arab Emirates, and Dubai was for me...my dream city...the city of dreams...

Dubai was young for its infrastructure, but an open city in the Gulf region with busy commercial outlook compared to some other places in the Middle East. It has a long river that cut-through the city center and the nearby places. Government restrictions were quite lax. Local citizens and expatriates of numerous creeds combined their wares and knowledge for building the future. International companies were starting to intensify their footing for their visions, to explore the place into the future of Dubai. Workers from different countries, with diverse cultures mixed up and intermingled with each other, for a hefty salary that they cannot get from their beloved countries. Moreover, Filipinos consists a large part of the service industry, making as one of the three largest labor resource of Dubai, the whole of the United Arab Emirates, over the Gulf and the Middle East.

The city center, named Deira was ten minutes ride from the store outlet where I was managing. The company rented a villa for our accommodation near the store - walking distance. I managed the free accommodation of the employees, its maintenance and security. I had a separate room as a manager, one of the benefits the company offered. Also, we had a free meal inside the restaurant when we’re on duty, another benefits for us.

I was in the management section as a Store Manager with sixteen staff and two assistant managers. The staff includes four Egyptians, two Indians and twelve Filipinos. I scheduled them all, for a two shifts per day. My two assistants were Filipinos; Ronnie and Jack. I can easily handle them than the non-Filipinos. The problems of the non-Filipinos were they could not speak English well and have had a different culture. As a newcomer I pushed myself to learned Arabic language. I had to be on-guard always, for me to implement the systems and procedures of the company.

For the first year of my employment, I worked professionally with high self-esteem and performance. My Area Manager congratulated me for my assertiveness to managed the employees and increasing the store revenues. I bought all kind of electronics for my enjoyment inside my room. I fulfilled some of my dream of having these material things.

I used my intelligence, charisma and my daring personality to conquer the difficulties, but deep inside of me, I knew, I have weaknesses, ever ready to explode, just in case. I kept on praying that what was happening with my life now, will kept going forever until I reached my goals. “If only, I could hold the wheel of fortune,” I said to myself.

I was glad that everything's going according to my goals. Even my family back home, felt the same way as I did. Ayah Isabel sent a letter with hope and happiness in my heart.





Seventeenth day of July 1986

Dear love,


How’s my love? I am hoping that you’re in good health always. I missed you. Tsssuuup!

The children were very busy these past few weeks for their Opening Party Presentation. I personally attend to their costumes that required much of stitching and decorations. The primary school principal told me that Anne Rose would be included for their school extra- curricular activities, same as with their academic standing. I am happy for them that they tried their very best to have that standing.

You know, Kent got some of your character traits and facial features; a Xerox copy of you! And Philip’s fine. I taught them how to read children books.

Love, do not forget to save money for our dream house and lot, so that we can transfer to a bigger one. The children need space while they’re growing up. You know our environment here in the city, much polluted and not safe anymore.

By the way, do not forget to pray. Always pray and thank to the Lord for the blessings that we received every day.

Remember, be a good father to your three loving children. Take good care of yourself. Refrain from evil deeds and bad people. Never give up for the things that could broaden our horizon.

I am here to support you always. I love you and you are the only one in my heart.

Sweet kisses, coming from your children (Anne, Kent, and Philip).


Always,


Ayah Isabel


I enjoyed reading Ayah’s letter, kept in my wallet to read from time after time when I was on duty. I was happy with my success, which gave me strength and courage to face life with enthusiasm.

TO BE CONTINUED###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Was Meant To Be An Overseas Filipino Worker #OFW17




It’s my day-off; I had more time to searched and applied for a job abroad. I went to Makati area where I began my adventure, in finding job abroad.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the square were the glass stained windows. They were awash with water, paused to look because intricate designs had always intrigued me. Water streamed down the glass like a fine, undulating curtain. It was probably being released from hidden ducts or some kind of similar system in the ceiling, then recycled back through intricate piping. I watched it for a moment, fascinated, before pressing closer to the glass, peering through this constantly-moving, liquid curtain, my eyes resting on banks of the most beautiful flowers I had seen for a long time. Color flamed vividly in a profusion of variegated reds and oranges intermingled with magenta and purple, paled to soft fading yellows and crisp white; and interspersed amongst these brilliant hues and the more fragile tints were innumerable dark light greens, leaves so luxuriant and shiny they looked as if they had been individually polished to a glossy sheen.

A smile touched my lips and my spirits lifted.

The array of flowers and plants were like a breath of spring, evoked images of sharp clear sunlight on green meadows, trees newly bursting with tender young leaves, and blue and radiant skies. And if the flowers made me feel light-hearted, then certainly they would bring luck to me.

This time there was no hesitation on my part. Decisively, I pushed open the door of the Sampaguita Manpower Agency and went inside. Instantly my nostrils were assaulted by all manner of mingled scents of the applicants and workers too. I sat down observing other applicants; the information table and the system of processing for the new applicants. Each applicant paid five pesos for the form, including me. I filled it up with my personal information, waited for almost two hours and was told to complete the requirements first to be included in the personal interview list. I roamed around the places nearby which consumed the beauty and wealth of the surroundings. Rich people were the only one who deserved to share their fame, the comfort and privilege which came with their wealth. But I had not lived to see and enjoy these blessings, for I was the one making my life who truly knew the heartaches, the sacrifices and the immense work it had taken to grasp it. And later, the effort expanded to hold onto what I called love. That was perhaps the hardest part of all – holding on with my dreams to fulfill.

I went home feeling quite exhausted for I was wondering what lies ahead with me, my family and my dreams. “Ayah, love, get dressed, and the children too.”

“Where to?” she asked me surprised.

“Manila Zoo, next to Harrison Plaza! Anne, Kent, John, let’s go!”



I was happy to see them roaming around feeling contented with us, the joy of having these innocent children, brought satisfaction and challenges. With them I felt the greatest love of all, love that can never equaled for any wealth in this world. They were the prime movers of my life, a life so hard to comprehend with my being and the strengths that I reserved for them. I valued them as my gems; the shining light that showed me the way, the hopes of wanting for a bright tomorrow and the inheritor of my innate self. Two weeks had passed; I received my educational documents coming from Edward. I was glad for the development that I pursued my job application abroad. I skipped my duty hours or asked for a day off, if I had to processed my papers.

The Manpower Agency called a meeting to all that were shortlisted. We were screened by the Company’s representative with strictness and care. I excelled from other management applicants because of my job knowledge and personality, which they told me after the feedback session. I knew I had the capabilities of managing people through the system and procedures of the company. I was selected as a Store Manager of the fast food chain of restaurant in the United Arab Emirates.

I went home feeling the joy of being an OFW already, but I didn’t have the knowledge of being one. Heard some news about it in the past; but not fully in my head to contemplate that one day I am one of them. I resumed my daily duty hours at the restaurant but my mind keeps on revolving to where I was destined.



One day while I was on duty, my assistant called me up, “Sir, our Operations Manager, Mr. Villanueva’s on the phone.”

“Okay, work this out, I’ll answer the phone.”

I answered the call inside the restaurant office, but I hesitated when I heard my superior’s voice to report at the main office, as soon as possible, (ASAP). I instantly went to the Caloocan Office to met Mr. Rene Villanueva. I went inside the Main Office hall, seated, composed myself and looked around for office workers that I knew of. It’s a usual office day for them; nothing seemed so unusual for their behavior. I went to the Operations Manager’s room, knocked and open the door knob slowly.

“Come in Mr. Fernando, have a seat.”

“Thank you Sir.” I responded courteously. He got a piece of paper in the folder, handed in to me.

“Please read that memo.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Is it true that you’re planning to work abroad?”

“No, Sir, that’s not true. I went to the manpower agency for possible job for my cousin, not for me, Sir,” I lied defensively.

“Then, this is just a rumor? You know, your performance are exceptional and truly an asset to the Company. I am planning to promote you as the next Area Manager of your territory. So, please, Mr. Fernando, stay away from any negative elements while you’re under the system of this Company. I’m sure you can do that. Thank you for coming.” I extended my right hand to him, “Thank you Sir!”

I left the main office feeling undecided, back to the restaurant, and held an emergency meeting for all the staff. “Today, I met our Operations Manager, and he told me, that there were staff who applied to work abroad. Anyone of you, really did apply?” I asked in strictness on my voice.

“Sir, as far as I know, in some other branches, I’m positive about it,” a staff said.

“Okay, give me list of those people. Thank you. That’s it. You can go back now to your assigned work.”

The next episode of my life was meant for me to decide, or to hold on whatever I can do with my employment status. I knew too well, to be promoted in a job, was like an opportunity of the century. It’s a feeling inside of you which conformed to your performance to excel and proceed with dignity. But, working abroad was an unknown destiny molded to be explored and discovered, without the presence of your loved ones. Really, intimidating for me to think in a manner that I had to choose between two different employment opportunities like choosing between Danielle and Ayah Isabel.

I was meant to be an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), that’s my fate, that’s my destiny, and my future.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Life In Dimasalang Street Baclaran #OFW16


In my mind, being a father was the greatest gift from God, a love that you can extend your innermost feeling to your son or daughter and to your loving wife. It’s not really a responsibility but an obligation to care, love and provide them for their future. Nevertheless, as a father, you conformed to your maturity, determination, knowledge and your whole personality to embrace your son or daughter, or children into the right path of living. If you’re lacking the sense of discipline to sacrifice for them, then, and only then, you have no right to be called a father.

I worked so hard to earn more than what I received from my employer; controlled my vices, learned new things for my trade and even learned new ways to interact with people. Ayah’s pregnancy brought a new life for me, to be a good father. We totally forget my friend, Edward Ramirez in Bacolod City, even Danielle Gustilo, my family, and even the wrath of Governor Gustilo. Ayah’s family too, she never asked me about them. Our past was buried underneath our hearts together, never to be opened; just our new life was the center of it all. We bade goodbye to Mike and Lina, hoping that our lives would change for the betterment of our new family. We transferred in Baclaran, part of Paranaque City, Metro Manila where my new job was situated, along Roxas Boulevard. I transferred to another line of business, but this time, it was an international fast food chain of restaurant. I started as a Management Trainee, trained so well by experts and above all, excelled in so many ways about managing the food business and the people.

I was determined to be promoted by my performance, educational status, and by making friends with the management people. Then, easy as the wind blows I am in for the managerial responsibility. We were very glad with my job accomplishments. Our hopes regained its course knowing where to land, as long as we were together, loving together and living together.

I was on duty when Ayah’s friend, Maria, telephoned me that she’s having pain. I hurriedly posted a note to my logbook in case some important calls for me, told my assistant manager about the emergency and assigned him to be in-charge of the restaurant. I hailed a taxi cab going to Dimasalang Street, Baclaran at the back of Redemptorist Church. Ayah and Maria were ready for the baby stuff in the bag. When I arrived, they hastily moved outside the house where I helped Ayah to the taxi cab back seat. Maria’s at the front seat. I instructed the driver to speed-up at once going to the Hospital ng Maynila. My fear increased a hundred folds when Ayah felt the pain. Her crumpled face cannot be explained why, who, what or how? I didn’t know what to do, I just told her to calm down and pray. The taxi cab driver speedily drove to Roxas Boulevard road, not minding the traffic lights and the policemen.

“Marc, Marc, the baby’s coming out...it’s coming out...now...Marc, get the hand towel...quick...inside the bag...quick Marc…!!!” Ayah commanded me.

I opened the bag, got the towel, but some of the baby’s clothing were scattered because of my nervousness. Ayah’s edged a little at the back seat, and told me to put the hand towel on both hands in front of her. Instantly, the baby’s on my hands...that I panicked; shouted at the driver to full speed. Ayah instructed me, to invert the baby, holding both feet and slightly tapped the body to make it cry. I did it! The slimy feeling and the sight of the uncut umbilical cord made me squirmed!

“Marc, hold that way, careful not to slip in your hands,” Ayah instructed me. My level of excitement and fear doubled a thousand times that I shouted again to the driver to full speed, or to fly...if possible. When we arrived at the hospital, a doctor and two nurses came to the taxi cab; checked the baby, cut the umbilical cord and brought inside. Ayah gave me a present that I cannot forget, a baby girl. The joy of having a baby erased all the hardship that I have gone through. I realized that I have my own family now. I am a father, now.

“Are you happy love?” Ayah asked me while still in the hospital bed.

“Very! I have a beautiful little angel! What’s her name love?”

“A beautiful name for a beautiful dreamer...like you, Anne Rose Fernando?”

“Yes…..yes…yes...."



Life in Dimasalang Street, Baclaran, were full of gladness and joy. We stayed there for three years and each year Ayah Isabel gave birth. My family was growing bigger with two boys and a girl. I prayed that I could sustain them for their growing years. I kept on working hard for my job, treading the right path of living. I had quite higher pay than any ordinary staff, that I was able to provide my family well enough, not enough for me, but not enough for us.

I did not have much time to find a job that fits with my educational qualification as a Chemistry graduate. I was rearing for this management stuff job, than cultivating my Chemistry knowledge. Ayah and I were occupied with our three children. They were the motivational force that entwined inside my heart...our hearts.

We’re living at the back of the Redemptorist Church wherein we found peace with our innermost souls when troubled came. We prayed together inside this church; the church that gave much power to hurdled the gloomy moments of our lives. We were still finding means to move forward. I talked to Ayah Isabel about working abroad. I persuaded her once and she agreed. We blenched our ambitions for a fresh brio, hoping that working in a faraway place could give us the life we were aspiring for our children. I couldn’t endure seeing them brooked the inadequate way of living, while they’re growing older.

Every time I faced in the mirror, the scar in my forehead reminded me of my past and Danielle Gustilo. “Where is she? I asked myself. Still...I am chasing my dreams.

I called up Edward at the Riviera Café & Restaurant in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

“Hello, hello, long distance call for Edward Ramirez.”

“Yes, can I help you?” answered the voice from the other end.

“Want to talk… to Edward Ramirez please.”

“Moment please, thank you.” said the voice over the phone.

“Edward Ramirez?” I asked with excitement. “Yes, who’s this?” Edward answered.

“It’s me friend, Marco Fernando from Manila. How are you now? I missed you Edward!”

“I’m fine Marco, how’s life with Ayah? It’s been almost five years now, but you didn’t call me, or write a letter?”

“Sorry my friend, it’s a long story...by the way my friend, could you help me with my Transcript of Records and Diploma? Just one copies each from San Agustin College. Approach the information people in the controller’s office and ask. I’ll give you my address now and send money to you through the courier. Friend, please, I need those documents...I’ll tell you the whole story when we meet someday....”

“Okay Marco, give me your the address.”

“Edward, my address: Number 3477 Dimasalang Street, Baclaran, Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines.

“Marc, I got it. Friend, please remember this; I love you and your family, also, I want my two sons to have a bright future.”

“My friend, you’re the best ever! How are your two sons? You remarry someone special?”

“I’m still single and my two sons are schooling now.”

“Best friend, any news from Ayah’s family? The Gustilo family? He’s still the Governor, I read in the newspaper.”

“Marc, you know what happened to Ayah’s family; only Bryan's alive. He’s here in Bacolod City, got his own family now.”

“You know his residence or contact number?”

“Yes...and Joel Arevalo too, he’s planning to work in the Middle East.”

“Me too, that’s why I need those documents.”

“Ahhhh, I see. Okay, then, I’ll send it to you.”

“Okay then, Bye my friend!”

“Bye, my best friend.”

It’s my day-off; I had more time to searched and applied for a job abroad. I went to Makati area for my next adventure, applying as an Overseas Filipino Worker.

TO BE CONTINUED###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Exploring Manila #OFW14





It was the last quarter of the year, 1980, the 5th day of October that we arrived at the port of Manila, Philippines.

As we came down aboard the ship, the feeling of being in Manila gave me hope to survive and fulfilled my dreams. But as we walked in the crowd of different people, saw different faces; we were wondering where to go and where to stay. In our hearts, we can survive believing that someday, luck will resides in our lives.

“Friend, are you the couple…I mean in the ship coming from Bacolod City?” asked a man with his wife and child.

“Yes, what about?” I asked doubting him.

“Where’s your baggage, are you travelling without…I mean bag, pouch or anything?”

“Why are you asking?” I angrily asked.

“You know, sorry about this…I was observing you both and I presumed that you are runaways? Am I right friend?”

I looked at him squarely, thinking that since we were new here and nowhere to go, I had to release my trust with this guy. I thought that maybe, just maybe, he could be my friend like Edward. “Yes, you’re right. Where are you staying? Can we stay for awhile in your house?” I asked him bluntly.

“Okay, I’ll talk to my wife for a minute. Stay here, I’ll be back.”

Ayah heard our conversation; she patted me at the back, and said, “Yes Marc, it’s better to be with him while we don’t know where to go. At least, we can get acquainted with them and the place too.”

He’s back smiling, tagging along his wife and child. “Friend, it’s okay. What’s your name, by the way?”

“I’m Marc and this is my wife, Ayah Isabel. And you?”

“My name is Michael Luna, Mike for short, and my wife Lina.”

“Nice meeting both of you, thank you so much Mike and Lina.”


We walked a few meters away from the port, hailed a taxi cab going to San Francisco, Del Monte in Quezon City. I totally observed the place where I came from, the port, the ships, the passengers and the buildings along the road. Ayah too, was looking outside the taxi cab window.

We arrived at the Luna Family feeling aloof and wandering if this was our new beginning. Michael showed me the way on how to survive in the city through telling stories, and giving valuable information about the people. His wife Lina too, taught Ayah on how to do the house chores, babysitting and cooking.

Two days had passed; we forced ourselves to find jobs at once. It’s morning time when we walked from Pantranco Bus Terminal up to Circle Roundabout, then, to West Avenue. As we searched, I noticed a sign, “Wanted Waiters and Waitresses.” We went inside the establishment, asked about the job opening. The man in-charge seated us along with the four applicants. We filled-up forms and submitted. He called me first; I stood up and we went inside the room. He told me to take off my clothes, then my pants.

“Sir, I’m applying for a job as a waiter, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but also, we are screening applicant through inspecting their naked self, for health purposes. Go on take off your brief…quickly…”

“Sir, sorry….I can’t do that…”

“Why are you so hard to understand? You want the job? Then do it!”The man angrily shouted at me.

I grabbed my clothes, put it on, hurriedly left the room, grasped Ayah’s arm and went away. We stopped under the tree to think something fruitful before our money lasts.

“Marco, love, can we go to Baclaran Church? Lina said, it’s a big church. Come! But we don’t know the direction and we don’t know the fare. We don’t have enough amounts for transportation.”

“Come on, it’s morning time, we have much time to roam around. As usual…walking…”

“Okay love.”

We asked the lady selling cigarettes and candies and told us to ride a jeepney, with Baclaran signboard. We tried to decipher some jeepneys with that signboard but in vain. The more we tried to asked people about Baclaran, the more complicated for us. I decided to come back from where we came from, Pantranco Bus Terminal. We walked again to find solutions the whereabouts of Baclaran Church.

“Okay, come, we ride a jeepney and discover later on,” I ventured to say to Ayah.

"Yes Marco, I’m so happy!”




We stopped a jeepney, seated, asked the driver where the destination was and how much the fare for two. As we travelled, I observed that the passengers were looking at us. We arrived at the front of a church, asked the driver to stop and we came down from the jeepney.

“Ayah, love, I think this is the Baclaran Church. Come quick!”

“But why there are vendors selling those herbs at the sidewalk? Marc, some of them I knew of.”

“Don’t mind that; come let’s go inside the church.” We held our hands together, went inside, made sign of a cross, and kneeled together. Still holding our hands, we prayed solemnly closing our eyes for almost five minutes.

I opened my eyes, moved my hand which Ayah felt by responding it. I whispered to her, “Let’s proceed our wedding vows this way.”

“Ayah, do you love me as I do?” I began to ask her.

“Yes, Marc, I do love you, now and until forever.”

“You promise to me that I am the only one in your heart?”

“Yes, my love, I promise.”

“You promise to me, that we love each other, in sickness and in health, until death do us part?”

“Yes my love, I am yours until death.” I stood up, get a red rose from the Virgin Mary’s flower vase, came back to Ayah and kissed her.

“Now I already kissed the bride.”

“I love you Marco Fernando.”

“I love you Ayah Isabel.”

Still holding our hands together, we went outside the church. I asked one of the sidewalk vendors.

“Is this the Baclaran Church?”

“No sir, Quiapo Church.”

“Then, where’s this Baclaran Church?”

“You have to ride going there, after the bridge, the Luneta Park, over there….” answered the boy.

“Okay, thank you! Bye!” We left at once going to where the boy was pointing. “Ayah, you heard what the boy said, “Luneta Park after the bridge…” This is the bridge now; we have to cross up to the other end.”

“Yes Marc, but I’m afraid…and....look… there’s human waste at the steel structure…yaksss…dirty!!” Ayah screamed.

“Go on walking my love, cover your nose and don’t look that awful thing.”



We walked for a few meters more, more buildings came to our view and continued walking. We didn’t care about other people, if they’re looking at us, or asking to themselves why we were walking all throughout. For all I knew, we were saving our money until I can find a suitable job. We reached the Luneta Park, seated at the bench, observing people who passed by, watching other things that excite us. I knew we were happy for the first time; we touched this park and we roamed around feeling contented.



“Marc, let’s take a rest over there.” Ayah pointing the garden.

“Okay, it’s lovely, green and beautiful to seat.”

We savored the precious moment that God bestowed upon us both; to love each other. We roamed round and round the whole park, knowing each structure in details. We continued walking back to Quiapo Church. We discovered the Manila City Hall, Post Office and Metropolitan Theater.

We continued walking, memorizing the streets from where we came from. We turned right up the underpass, walked again until we saw the University of Santo Thomas, then, the big white church and asked the sidewalk vendors for its name, “Santo Domingo Church,” they said in unison.


TO BE CONTINUED###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Manila - The City of Hopes #OFW15





We savored the precious moment that God bestowed upon us both; to love each other. We roamed round and round the whole park, knowing each structure in details. We continued walking back to Quiapo Church. We discovered the Manila City Hall, Post Office and Metropolitan Theater.

We continued walking, memorizing the streets from where we came from. We turned right up the underpass, walked again until we saw the University of Santo Thomas, then, the big white church and asked the sidewalk vendors for its name, “Santo Domingo Church,” they said in unison.


We arrived in the house; tired, hungry but happy for the discoveries. Lina greeted us and asked, “Ayah, Marc, how’s your day?”

“Lina, we’re in Luneta Park, Quiapo Church, Manila City Hall...Manila Post Office..and Marc, what’s the name of the big school?”

“Ahhhh..University of Santo Thomas…yes..that’s it!”

“I think you two are hungry. I’ll cook rice and fried the GG?” Lina said.

“What’s GG Lina?” Ayah asked.

“Ahhh…a cheap fish named galunggong, but it’s meaty and tasty. You two, try to learn Tagalog language quickly, and other words they’re using, so that, they won’t fool you. You know here in Manila, there’s a lot of bad person. By the way, Marc, wait for Mike to come home, he had good news for you. Come Ayah, we’ll cook.”

It’s seven in the evening when Mike showed up at the house after a hard day's job in the restaurant. He seated himself at the floor "Japanese-style," and calling his wife, “Lina, come here, my love! Prepare the small table for our session and you know...as always...my energizer..."

“Owww Michael…love, love, love...I know what you mean...yes, yes, I’ll go....” Lina answered and left the house. We seated on the floor facing each other, Ayah beside me looking at us and listening with our conversation. “Mike, you mean to say, we’re going to drink?” I asked.

“Yes, you’re drinking liquor right? Yes, then, good! By the way, Marc, just call me Pare, and you Ayah, my Kumare, okay?”

“Okay Pare,” I said smiling wryly.

“Great Pare...good…good...I'm very happy today!”

Lina came with four bottles of rum, family sized cola, large canned sardines in tomato sauce, green chili and five pieces of red onions.

“My love Lina, you’re so beautiful, the best ever!” Mike hugged Lina.

“Hmmmmp, my love, my love...I know what you mean…”


Ayah opened the canned sardines, put in a large bowl, sliced the onions and mixed together. While Lina, produced ice cubes, put in a bowl and served. Both of them served in front of us like “King of Kings” who were busy talking each other and loving them with their own different styles.

“Pareng Marc, get some ice and pour at once, so that we can start flying...going to heaven. It’s my day off tomorrow!!!”

“Okay Pare,” I said.

“Oppps...Mareng Ayah, Lina...of course, the two of you too!” Lina poured her drink, put some ice, cola and drank. She mixed another one.

“Ayah Isabel, go, go on, pour some, are you drinking or not?” Lina asked Ayah. “I’m not drinking Lina…” Ayah answered.

“Come love, I’ll mix it for you...here.” I gave Ayah her drink. “Okay, thank you Marc.”

We enjoyed the evening with such laughter and joyous exchanging of experiences.

“Pareng Marc, come with me the next day, I’ll introduce you to my manager. We need restaurant staff...Okay friend?”

“I’m fine friend for your recommendation...thank you so much...for your help.”

We consumed four bottles of rum in all that each one of us, started to fell the liquor inside our body systems. Different topics were being opened up, even some personal ones. We were just like brothers and sisters enjoying the night which our fates been united.

Lina was the first one to enter their room, then Mike followed her, signaled us saying goodbye. I finished the remaining drink, clear the bottles and bowls, and put in the kitchen. We retired together in our room; we took off our clothes and closed my eyes. Ayah began massaging my chest which ignited my switches to energize the power. As we explored each other bodies while closing our eyes, without saying a word; we heard the electrified Mike and Lina’s lovemaking at the other room; whining, swearing which made the house quite agitated.

We continued exploring our bodies while listening to them, the liquor on our bodies worked well and made us heightened our desires to copulate. I lifted Ayah’s left leg while she’s lying face up, and moved my hand to her erected breasts. With my side view position, I entered and exploded without a word, silent scream of satisfaction, controlled not to make a sound but I bit Ayah’s skin.


I was accepted as a waiter through the recommendation of Michael Luna. We were together all throughout our jobs and leisure hours. We became close to each other; my new best friend. But as a saying, "No matter what the differences, friendship still prevails."

We separated from Luna’s house and rented a room near the bridge of San Francisco, Del Monte in Quezon City. It’s located near the famous restaurant, “Australian Chicken & Ribs”, with a multicolored neon lights signage and kangaroo as a logo, not far from Mike Luna’s house. The room was not so spacious, just for the two people; we lived in a meager subsistence.

“Pareng Marc, after our duty hours, we’re going to Ermita district. Isn’t it you want to see this beautiful place?”

“Okay my friend, beautiful huh?”

“Ohhh, yeaaaahhh!” Mike said with sarcastic gesture.

We travelled from Frisco up to Quiapo, then, from Quiapo to Pasay City near Harrison Street; entered a small road going to Roxas Boulevard. We stopped at the damaged building with red lights all over the place. Mike talked to a man and gave some money while I observed the area.

“Come Marco, my friend said, in a minute, the show will start.” What show, I asked myself, just nodded without a word, followed Mike inside, and we seated near the ring. I thought at first, this was just a boxing bout, like my job before, I remembered those days. I patted Mike’s shoulder and said, “What show is this?”

“Just wait and the show will start now. Just focus my friend...” Mike said without moving his head.

The place was filled with male audience, willing and eager for the show to start. The dimmed red lights started to blinks in different direction, including the two search lights positioned at the corner of the ring. The music began in a slow tune when a woman appeared from behind the curtain. She must be in her early twenties, white skin, long hair and slender body structure. She’s wearing a transparent robe, which her naked body showed in full. She danced to the tune of the music that made her movements more pronounced, while enticing the audience with her gyrating motion. She approached the metal pole at the center of the stage. She clamped her left leg to the pole and started to undress. Again, the beat of the music changed from slow to a more rapid routine. She released her body to the pole and lie down in a covered bed. A male counterpart started to approached her at the bed, wearing only brief. But, he went to the pole facing back to the woman in bed. He held the pole tightly that exudes his manliness through his muscles. The show continued as what the audience had expected, and finished with a kiss.

I looked at Mike beside me; his focus was truly devoid of distraction while holding his pocket, “Mike the show’s finished.”

“Marco, you like the show friend?”

“Very much my friend, but we need to release this...well, we’ll drink first before going home, okay? We have to release this with our lovey-dovey for more satisfaction. This time of the year, my urge rises to its peak!! Wheeeew, the best!! Okay let’s go Marc!”

We took a taxi cab going to Ermita area and find a beerhouse to drink. We entered the small bar, ordered a case of beer and two orders of beef steaks. We settled at the corner table and waited for our food and beers. A beautiful woman approached us asking if we liked to be paired with ladies, while enjoying the night. “No, thank you.” Mike answered flatly.

Mike started his usual antics, telling me stories about the show, about some beautiful girls, and anything that came from his mind. He’s such a talker, a salesman, a mediator, a joker, a playboy...the lists were endless. Around eleven in the evening, we went home quite groggy with a case of beer. We stopped at Mike’s house first and knocking at the door.

“Love Lina, open the door please….” Mike’s calling Lina. Nobody answered. “Love… Lina, hurry, open the door!!” Lina opened the door, greeted us, “What happened Marc?” I carried Mike to his room while Lina prepared hot water and hand towel.

“Mareng Lina, I’m going home...bye...bye...see you tomorrow...”

“Bye Pare, thank you.”

I walked home alone, but I vomited when I reached the Frisco bridge, got my handkerchief and wiped my mouth. I really had to exert my remaining energy to be in the house. The darkness of the night came nearer to my vision and exploding in all directions, everything within my vision kept on moving and the world's fading. I felt the warm hand towel on my face. I opened my eyes. Ayah’s face lightened my feeling of assurance that I am alive.

“Marc, are you alright now?”

I nodded and took a deep breath, “Can you give me noodle soup?”

“I already cooked some, I’ll get it.” Ayah stood up, went to the kitchen and came back. “Don’t move, I will be the one to feed my baby.”

“Oh, come on...give me the bowl, I’m so hungry...” I gulped the noodle soup in an instant and drank cold water, “Ayah, love, kindly give me a cup of coffee...extra strong. Ayah, what time is it now? What happened to me?”

“You know Marco Fernando; I went to the restaurant and asked about you and Mike, because Lina was worried that you two will spend much time and money drinking again. So, I waited you, to tell you something...the Barangay night-watcher brought you home. Marc, we need money for...our future...don't spend too much...”

“And, what you want to tell me?” I answered Ayah in a serious tone.

“I went to Barangay clinic for check-up because I have doubt about my monthly menstrual cycle. It’s positive Marc, I’m pregnant!”

The sudden excitement within me flowed like wild flowers blossoming under the moonlight, slowly opening its petals to say, “I am for what I am! I’m a father now!”

In my mind, being a father was the greatest gift from God, a love that you can extend your innermost feeling to your son or daughter and to your loving wife. It’s not really a responsibility but an obligation to care, love and provide them for their future. Nevertheless, as a father, you conformed to your maturity, determination, knowledge and your whole personality to embrace your son or daughter, or children into the right path of living. If you’re lacking the sense of discipline to sacrifice for them, then, and only then, you have no right to be called a father.


TO BE CONTINUED###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Saturday, February 15, 2014

We Survived the Wrath of The Governor #OFW13






A man released Ayah, and I embraced her while the man pointing his gun to us. There were three of them; a driver, the man in front seat, and a man with a gun at the back. I observed that we’re heading outside of the city. After some kilometers of travelling in full speed, the car stopped. The man told us to calm down, out of the car, pushed us inside the house, and seated in the dining table face to face. Two more men appeared to watch us. Governor Gustilo showed up that I realized instantly the whole picture.

“You know Marco; I offered you the best opportunity that I could give you… because I loved my daughter very much. But, you’re a disgrace!” Pointing his clenched fist to me. The Governor walked slowly towards Ayah, holding her shoulders. “Lady, I am sure that you knew about Marco? That we have an agreement? That he wanted to marry Danielle? And not you?”

Ayah’s looking at me crying.

“But you ruined it Marco by marrying this girl!! That, that you want me, looks like a fool to you? Huh, Marco Fernando?? You can’t fool me!”

The governor left the place instructing his men to watch us very carefully. Two men brought us to a room and locked the door. I held Ayah’s tired body but she’s still crying. “You have to take a rest. Come on I will put you in bed.”

“How can I Marco!! You lied to me!!” She shouted at me in despair.

“My heart is not lying to you, I love you, not Danielle, please believe me?”

“The Governor’s voice still lingers in my heart Marc, but I love you too.”

“You want to take a bath with me?” I asked Ayah while I kissed her lips.

We took off our clothes, directly opened the door and we savor the refreshing coolness of water on our bodies, toweled to dry, and find some clothes in the closet to wear on. I smelled Danielle’s perfume.

It’s almost two in the early morning when I checked the room’s wall clock hanging at a far distance, near the window. Ayah was wide awake and can’t sleep, looking at the ceiling.

“You’re hungry? I’ll find some in the fridge.” I stood up in bed, jumped to the floor, but I noticed the door knob was moving. I quickly went to the door and slowly observed it. I threw one of my slipper to Ayah that she instantly sat back looking at me. I signaled to her to keep quiet. She slowly got down to the bed and tiptoed towards me. The door slowly open but we’re hiding from the back. I smelled a perfume that I used to smell before but I can’t decipher.

The face of Edward came to a view and I grabbed him towards us. “What you’re doing here? Where are the guards? I asked Edward instantly in a low voice. “Quick Marco, hurry, we’re leaving…”




I held Ayah’s hand, followed Edward to the kitchen and we’re out in the dark. We walked hurriedly holding Edward’s back who’s using a small flash light to guide us. I saw at a far distance the lights from where we came in, the guard’s house of the main gate.

“Edward… where are we going?" I whispered to Edward.

“Just follow me, okay friend? Trust me.”

I nodded to myself, only to myself. We walked for a few more minutes just following Edward. I saw a small light from afar. “Edward, there’s a light over there. Look!”

“Keep quiet friend, he’s my companion. Quick!” Edward commanded to me. “Ayah, how are you?”

“I’m fine Edward. Thanks my friend.” She answered.

“Now, we’re near…hurry Marco Fernando…”

“You crazy dog! Don’t call me Marco Fernando…just Marc my friend!”

“Just a joke my friend…my King…” Edward answered smiling.

We got inside the car and speed away from the farm. The light of the morning sun reflects the city’s backdrop, as people started to move for a new day. Life in the city contoured people’s minds and dreams. It really dissolved the most precious wealth of their beings, toiled each day to complete their most cherished dreams. The waves bolted underneath the giant steel framework of the port’s structure. A passenger ship M/V Don Simeon was floating ashore anchored nearby, port workers loading passenger’s baggage and some passengers began to embark. We found the port canteen to stay while we’re waiting for our schedule to go on board.



“Edward, thank you friend, you’re an angel to me, always.”

“Take your seat my King, eat something, okay? Enough time to say goodbye to you and Ayah.”

“How come the two of you knows...”

“My friend I’ll tell you... When you telephoned me to purchased two tickets, I sensed that you’re with Ayah...exactly two tickets...You left the boarding house without a word for me. Remember, the meeting, I know you don’t...” Edward suddenly stopped.

“Edward?”

“Ohhhhh, and then, I called Joel to accompany me at the bus terminal to surprise both of you, but, we saw what happened. You know, we rent a car…I mean, part of the plan we followed up to the farm because I knew that you’re in danger. So, Joel and I strategized on how to get inside the farm. We watched the guards and waited for a suitable time to combat them…one-by-one.”

“You’re not afraid Edward, Joel, that the Governor will discover that you’re helping us?”

“No my friend, my life is nothing now, you’re leaving me.”

“Owwww, come on, I won’t forget you. You can come to Manila anytime my friend. You see, I’ll send letter every week, just for you...and also you Joel.” Silence ensued for the four of us; kept the silence as a way of letting our feelings flow within our souls. That’s life and we had to face it.

“You’ve done so much for me Edward and for Ayah too. I knew that we’ll meet someday...I’ll promise to you my friend, I’ll get you here in Bacolod.” Edward hugged me tightly, crying silently, letting his palm entwined with mine, and whispered into my ear, “Goodbye my friend, I’ll miss you.” He gave the daily news bulletin to me silently, looking into my eyes and I kept it at the back pocket of my pants. “I’ll miss you too my friend.” I answered back.

My heart ached for this kind of goodbye, for leaving my best friend, for leaving my old self, knowing that our future was vague. I had to run from Danielle, from the Governor’s wrath, from the life that I used to live. I needed changes for the good of myself, my love and family. Changes which I wanted for so long, but I love Ayah more than Danielle. That’s the reason why I need new environment to prolong those ambitions, to complete what I wanted now, but with Ayah Isabel; my love, my wife, my life. As what we’ve learned from other people; Manila the city of joy for people coming from the province, like us.

The ship sailed smoothly towards our destination, Manila, Philippines. It was in the year 1980, the 4th day of October that we left Bacolod City going to Manila. The next two days, we’re nearing the port of Manila, and our hearts filled with joy for our new dreams, new hopes and new beginning.

We were all alone now for our destiny...All alone for our new life, in the City of Hopes, Manila.


TO BE CONTINUED###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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Travel Back to Bacolod City #OFW12


We found a restaurant at the corner of the street, got inside and seated. I looked around to get acquainted with the place. I saw a telephone at the counter, while the lady was busy writing. There’s a juke box music counter, pale blue curtains and table covers. The restaurant was not fully maintained in terms of cleanliness. I called the male server and order two plates of “pancit canton noodles,” family size soft drink and white sliced bread.

“Ayah, is this the town of Kabankalan?

“Yes, part of…this is the Kabankalan crossing. The town proper is thirty meters away.” I stood up and said to Ayah. “I’ll call Edward for a moment; just finish your food here, okay?”

“Okay Marco.”

I telephoned Edward in Bacolod City, told them about what happened in Barrio Tuyom and my decision to start a new life in Manila together with Ayah Isabel. I asked him to purchased two tickets going to Manila through a passenger shipping lines. Edward told me, that two men were asking about my whereabouts and some personal questions too.

“Who are they? Are you sure they’re relatives of Ayah? You checked their identification…through ID cards, driving license, or social security cards? You fool Edward! Can you describe them to me?

“They’re quite professionals, clean cut…well, wearing T-shirts…jeans…and rubber shoes. Hmmmm…..”

“Okay! Okay then, just do what I told you and we’ll meet there…on our favorite disco house. Got it friend?”

“Okay, got it. Marco, how about your meeting with…you know…tomorrow?”

“Just leave it to me, and don’t ask me again about it, okay?”

“Yes Boss…you’re the Boss…your Highness…”

“You foolish….I’m not joking! This is not the time to joke!...We’ll meet there, okay? Bye for now…bye….take care always my friend.”

“Yes Marco my friend… you too, and Ayah Isabel.”

“Bye!” I went back to my seat, Ayah’s crying again.

“Ayah, stop it, I can’t bear to see you like this. Are you coming with me to Manila, or you’ll stay here?" Ayah continued crying and said , “I’m with you Marc.”

I asked some information about the bus terminal from the waiter, and we went ahead to the station. It’s past seven in the evening but the people on the streets were scarce. Ayah told me some news about this town while going to the bus terminal; business establishments too, some closed early as their usual trading hours because of rampant violence and robberies. The leaders of the town were trying to proposed curfew hours for non-residents, and that some political groups opposed for this decree. Political leaders have their own private army to support their leadership, followers, businesses and other personal interests. “That’s our way of life here in the south of the island. Only the rich families have the power, money and fame. They controlled the lives of an ordinary, poor and illiterate people. Isn’t it we learned this from high school?” Ayah asked me.

“Yes my dear, but I’m absent at that time when those topic were being discussed.”

“Ahhhhhh, I see.”

“Come on, let’s get our tickets and rest inside the bus.”

I bought two tickets going to Bacolod City and asked Ayah to come along to the opened shop, trading some ready-made lady’s dresses and shoes. “Which one do you like? I think that one with flowery design, do you like it?”

“Yes Marc, I love that one. By the way, where did you get this money?”

“Remember the money your parents gave to us, I put some on my wallet. Okay then, get it and change your dress at the fitting room, over there and I’ll select shoes that’s suited for you.”

We finished buying things for Ayah; bought some food delicacies and went inside the bus. I selected the rear seats for us both. I embraced Ayah to rest on my left arm and she fall asleep. Few minutes later, sleep kept on bugging my nerves that I started to closed my eyes. But suddenly, my vision focused on a man standing near the ticket booth. He’s the man from the chapel! I closed my eyes again, and spotted him, to be sure. Yes, it’s him!

I hastily edged down the seat with Ayah to cover us from a man’s view. I woke her up slowly, whispered about the man, and waited for almost an hour on reclining position. In my mind, I am sure that I was his target, not Ayah Isabel or her family. I kept track of my past, questioning who had done such horrible acts killing innocent people?


Passengers started to come in, one by one, some in groups, and the air-conditioned bus was half-full, rearing to go, for a scheduled time. The bus helper began to shout, ‘Bacolod, Bacolod, Bacolod City, last chance to get your ticket…there’s still more seats….Bacolod!!!” Just a minute had passed, the bus moved from bus terminal up to the crossroad where we ate our supper. It went to the right side of the crossing going north, which I glanced outside and saw the vastness of sugar cane plantation even it was dark. I closed my eyes to reminisce the story of my mother to me when I was young.

"It was the 30th day of September 1954...my birth date...and my grandfather's place...It was on the center of the sugar cane plantation where I was born at the small barrio named Tabu, in the town of Ilog, province of Negros Occidental. That time, my pregnant mother and father were there for vacation, and to ask my grandparents for a parcel of land, to be cultivated for our use. The reason why my grandfather built that way was that, he could see at once who’s coming from his house and who the robbers of his most precious wealth; sugar cane, mangoes, jackfruit, and other fruit-bearing trees. The house had a second level section wherein my grandfather used to stay when he’s not on the field. The lower portion of the house was made of wood, concreted floor, where the kitchen and dining area were separated by the wooden partition intricately designed with the old carvings - a large area where nobody knew why my grandfather modeled this way. The upper portion’s roof was made of coconut leaves with knee-leveled wooden wall, and things that were closed to his heart; shot gun, deer-skin leather carpet, tobacco pipe and vernacular. It was he who ran the family business wherein my grandmother was supporting him through keeping records of his transactions. They lived happily with their four children; three boys and the youngest, a girl. It was my father – second child - who dreamed to become a soldier. He wanted to be released from the usual way of farming and breeding animals. He decided to be a soldier was the only way to fulfill that dream. He was brought to Manila for Army Training. The Philippine Army division in Quezon City – the capital of the Philippines – assigned him to another area, near Manila, where he met my mother. They loved each other very much and young to know what’s the real meaning of life. They eloped, lived together, and my father gets sacked for absences without leave (AWOL). They lived in the poverty-stricken place in Manila with their own accord to face the realities of life. My father could not sustain the rigors of living in an unsustainable basic way of family life. They moved to Bacolod City, found a job as a driver of soft drink Company through the recommendation of his newfound friend, and stayed for more than a year. He was transferred to the town of Hinigaran for the Company’s newly opened warehouse. It was on this place that he spent his family life, spending time with his three children; until I came to life as his fourth child..."

“Marco, Marco wakes up!” I opened my eyes instantly when I felt Ayah’s hand and her call.

“Why, what happened? I asked with bewilderment.

“You’re snoring loudly like a boar. All the passengers are clamoring about it. Look at them.....look!”

I straightened up and looked at them; some faces were smiling, some were angry, and I noticed two passengers were just sitting still in their seats. I whispered to Ayah, “Forget them, they’re all ugly wild cow,” while aping with my face.

Ayah wryly smiled at me, but ashamed to the passengers. “You slept for an hour I think and it seems that you’re dreaming something?”

“No, Ayah, it’s just...I’m tired.” I lied to Ayah. “Where are we now… town of Binalbagan?”

“We are approaching the town of Hinigaran. Do you want to visit your family?”

“No Ayah, this is not the time. We have to go on with our plans. When we arrived in Bacolod City, we have to buy The Daily News, so that we have some knowledge about your family in Barrio Tuyom. Besides, Edward bought two tickets for us. We have to leave at once.”

“Okay Marc you’re the Boss….”

The stillness of riding this passenger bus during night time muted my thoughts while holding Ayah in my arms. The new feeling that I found protecting Ayah from any dangers gave me much thought of being a responsible man. A married man, married for the love of Ayah, married for her future.

It’s past ten in the evening when we arrived at the South Negros Bus Terminal. All the bus passengers were preparing to disembark. We hurriedly go down from the bus, while I was holding Ayah’s hand. The bus terminal was quite peaceful for this hour of the day. We pushed ourselves to hail a taxi cab, with a lightning speed two men grabbed us from behind, dragged towards the open door of a red car and a man pulled us inside the car. I stamped my right fist to a man’s face, but he clamped Ayah’s body while aiming a gun on her head where I halted.

“Okay! Okay! Relax friend...” I said suddenly. “Release her!”

TO BE CONTINUED###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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The Marriage #OFW11



The family Gonzales was very prepared for the marriage of their one and only female member; from the food, utensils, equipment, invitation cards, bridal gown and groom’s suit; every detail were hurriedly planned and executed with haste. Every resident knew this wedding ceremony of Ayah Isabel; a prominent wedding of the decade!

The festive mood in the Gonzales resident was really showing through the house decorations; the apple green colored curtains, the silky white bed covers and people were busy doing their part to this occasion. The covered-makeshift-bamboo-tents for wedding reception were constructed for this purpose. Every facets of the wedding ceremony were all set; the guests, the servants, the Gonzales family, the bride and me.

The chapel was decorated with apple green and white motif; the fresh flowers were scattered all over the chapel floor, bunches of these were planted on the tall bases made of wood. The chapel pews were bounded by apple green and silky white ribbons with large amount of free-flowing cloth were strapped to cover the aisle. Even the altar was delicately decorated according to the colors of the ceremony.

I was with Ayah’s parents waiting at the chapel for the wedding ceremony. I stand in front of the altar with them. I saw the bridal’s car stopped in front of the chapel’s door. My excitement heightened; music was played while Ayah’s marching along the aisle. She marched slowly towards us. Her parents gave Ayah’s hands to mine. When I finally held her hands, I slightly squeezed it, just a signal that I am happy to be with her, “In sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part…This is it, I thought to myself.”

Since I was facing the chapel’s front door while holding Ayah’s hands, I saw a man, wearing a bull cap holding an armalite weapon aiming at us. I embraced Ayah tightly, dived together at the floor, while the man started to sprayed bullets like a wild boar. Panic was everywhere; our bodies were covered with blood. I spotted a small door at the back of the altar, holding tightly Ayah’s left arm, we crawled hastily and ran as fast as we could, heading to the open field straight to the coconut plantation near the beach. I looked around, checked the situation, and we both hid under the bushes at the base of the coconut tree catching our breaths.



“Are you alright?” I asked Ayah in a low voice.

“Yes..yes,” while nodding her head, crying, with panic in her eyes. I hugged her tightly, comforting miserably to calm down. For a few minutes, we moved on for another place to hide.

“Ayah, we have to face this nightmare without any hesitation on our part. Our marriage is not yet solemnize properly, but it’s alright for me. The thing is, we are one in our hearts and minds… We don’t know who’s responsible for this killing. I know what you feel about your parents…sorry….” Ayah started to cry again. Sorrow engulfed me with fear that wrecked my inner sanctum to cry too. We stayed for a while in one place. I decided to be realistic…to accept our fate…to go on whatever lies ahead.

My meeting with the governor was not in my mind anymore, maybe as of now; marrying Danielle, the large sum of money, and other dreams that I had in life. I had to face the world now together with Ayah, she’s my responsibility now, I had an obligation to my wife. “Ayah, we don’t know what actually happen to your family, but we saw your parents were hit by the bullets, slumped on our sides…I’m sorry…and we don’t know the situation there. I promise, I’ll do my best to know what news therein. But in the meantime, we have to leave them…we have to go on…with our lives…as husband and wife. We have to move on to Bacolod City to get help with Edward. Besides, we don’t know who’s behind, all of these messes. Maybe, we’re the target? Or your brother Bryan? Or…Ayah, do you know this place?”




“No Marc, I think we’re heading north going to the next barrio named Isio, a place quite big in inhabitants compare to Tuyom. This place is a remote area. We have to go in the main road for any vehicle we can ask for a ride going to Isio. That’s the way life here in our barrio.”

“Okay then, we have to remove all these stuff…I mean our bloody outfit.” I started to take off my suit, hid under the bushes. Ayah too, took off her wedding gown, fingered the splattered blood and hid the same.

“Marco, we have to wash our bodies in the sea…”

“Okay, stay there for a while; I’ll check the surrounding first.” I headed to move slowly at first, inspect the nearby place if it was safe for us. The scorching sun bit my flesh like a scorpion’s sting. I went back to where Ayah’s waiting, told her to move fast, and held her left hand towards the rocky side of the beach. We took off our clothes totally, our naked bodies shines in the light of the sun like gems. We washed our clothes and underwear, tightly squeezed it, and spread open in the boulder. We remained in the water for a few minutes, waited for our clothes to dry and dressed up. Ayah and I looked for any resident along the shore or anybody who can help us.

“Ayah, you’re wearing heels? We’re going to walk for a few kilometers away…look at you?”

“Yes, my feet hurt while running in the fields….”

“Give it to me.” She handed her heels, I looked for a stone and broke the heels making it comfortable for her. “See! It’s flat now…fit for you to walk comfortably!”



We walked in the dense coconut plantation along the beach, looking for the main road, continued walking with a hope that somebody could help us, could point the right way. Thirst besets us, hungry too, hungrier while aiming for positive results. I thanked God that my wallet was with me, at the back pocket of my pants. We reached the main road, slumped on the rock beside the dusty bushes, clasping our hands together. An hour later, a truck loaded of sugar cane appeared on our view approaching us. I extend my hand with joy, at the same time gave signs to the driver to stop.

“Good afternoon Mister, we need your help….we’re going to…??” I looked at Ayah because I forgot the name of the place.

“Barrio Isio…but where are you heading for?.... Dacongcogon Sugar Central?” Ayah asked the driver.

“Yes, in Dacongcogon…I can drop you in the town of Kabankalan, if you have money for the crude oil.”

“Yes, yes my friend I’ll give you the money.” I said to the driver. “Here’s the three hundred pesos, take it.”


We traveled around three kilometers without saying any word from each other. Even the driver said nothing or asked anything about us. My mind kept on wandering about our situation right now, about Ayah’s family, about the gunman and about our future. Now that I decided to be with Ayah; I had an obligation and responsibility for her well-being. Tomorrow's the day I had to meet Governor Gustilo. Should I be in a hurry for that meeting? And, get the money and run?

“Boss, we’re here at the junction of Kabankalan road…I’ll stop it here for diesel refilling at the gas station nearby,” the driver said to me.

“Okay, we’ll find a restaurant to eat. Come with us?

“Thank you Boss, it’s getting dark, driving during the night is very dangerous in Dacongcogon.”

“Okay then, take this hundred pesos for your food instead. Come on....” The driver took the money and drove away.


TO BE CONTINUED###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.
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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Conflict #OFW10





The Conflict #OFW10


The next day, it’s raining outside, alone in my room which Edward provided for me. He asked me to transfer to his boarding house, to save from the house rent, food and daily consumables. And, a temporary shelter for me, while I was waiting for our next meeting with the Governor. Today, Edward’s on duty. The more I stayed inside the boarding house, the more I wanted to release my energy. Without much fussed, I took off all my clothes, carried the dumbbell and began the basic way of exercising muscles. The rigorous exertion took off those energies that lived within me for the past two days. And today, the thoughts of Danielle and Ayah Isabel still lingered on.

I reminisced the time with Danielle; that lovely and silky skin, which made her, captured my insanity. She’s beautiful, modesty aside, kind with strong disposition. The world will stop when her loveliness exudes no boundaries. A woman with the power to captures a man’s imagination into the world of ecstasy. How I missed those first night with her!

Switching my mind to Ayah Isabel gave me another dimension of my soul. She was inside of me, I felt it. Never had I felt so beautiful when I imagined her. The charisma in her being that bewitched my whole being. A kindhearted Ayah Isabel, meek, and had the power to intertwine our souls together. A majestic beauty folded unto my wings, slowly proffered unto my heart and gradually exploded unto my imagination. She had the magic and all!

Lying alone thinking these two women made me forbade for whatever I had in my life. Other than that, my thoughts inclined to Danielle’s father offer. It was really sad to think this offer but I had to accept even though how hard for me. I was thinking to say goodbye to Ayah Isabel, she’s in her hometown, 80 kilometers south of Bacolod City. I gathered some important things that I used to bring when I was travelling alone; a backpack, briefs, bottle of perfume, ID cards and other vital items. I had to be in a hurry.

I went to the south bus station, hurriedly got a ticket, and sat at the back of the air-conditioned bus. I bought some cigarettes, caramel candies, juicy fruit gum for my travel. It’s a long journey from Bacolod city up to town of Cauayan. I really had to move fast before my meeting with the Governor. This was the only way to halt the craziness in my life; to bid goodbye to Ayah Isabel. It’s painful but I had to do it.




The clock was ticking, my mind kept on wandering why I had to finish this way. Why I had to say goodbye, and why I had to marry Danielle. It was the money that motivated me? The money in which, I wanted so much for a long time? The sun rises slowly in the horizon when I arrived in a small barrio of Tuyom, part of Cauayan in Negros Occidental. The freshness of the fields molded with my troubled mind, across the vastness of the hilly mountains, remained destitute on my vision. Really amazing was the way the sunlight spread its rays to the sinful human habitat called earth.


I arrived six thirty in the morning, walked some meters away, and stopped at the front of Ayah’s house. I gathered strength through deep breathing, knocked the door and Ayah opened the door amazed. The house was an ancestral abode with shiny wooden floor, a guest section and dining area. Windows were placed intricately for easy access of air to the interior and the whole house as a whole. It’s surrounded with light-peachy colored curtains, delicately positioned on each window; Spanish type of decorative paintings was hanging side by side on the wall. Totally terrific to view such kind of home interior designs. Lovely!

Ayah greeted me with disbelief at the door while looking back at the dining section. She welcomed me, brought me to a sofa and seated. She called her mother at the kitchen. Mrs. Maria Elena Gonzales appeared from us, smiling and happy. She’s about sixty five years, white hair but full, with a healthy body posture and her face slightly resembled Ayah Isabel.

“Hello Marco Fernando! We had met at the graduation ceremony, right?”

“Yes madam, how are you?”

“I am fine. Ohh…Manuel, my husband’s still sleeping. He’s tired for yesterday’s business transactions. By the way, I will cook chicken today.”

“Yes my favorite Mrs. Gonzales!” I said smiling. Mrs. Gonzales told Ayah Isabel to prepare breakfast for me and for them too.

“Marco, excuse me, I have to cook our breakfast. Stay here and find some magazines to read.”

I was reading the food corner section of the magazine when a man suddenly grabbed me, pushed to the wall and I received a final blow that I lost my consciousness. When I regained my senses, I’m on the bed with Ayah by my side. She looked at me and said, “Are you alright now?” I nodded, asked her about that man. She answered and started to cry, “He’s my eldest brother Bryan. ..He’s really angry…He told me everything about… that we’re living together in the city. Bryan was with his friend all day yesterday… drank liqueur, and he got this...knowledge about us. His friend was working in Bacolod City….” Ayah left, brought me some food and we ate together in bed.

Darkness falls upon the surface of the earth, every family member of the Gonzales clan were present at the dining table; Bryan, the eldest, Arthur, the next, Ayah Isabel, the youngest, Mrs. Gonzales and at the head, Mr. Gonzales. I seated myself near Ayah’s place, looked at their serious faces. I felt the anguish inside of me, when looking at people like this one, tonight. I thought that what happened eight hours ago, was the reason. I felt them, every one of them.

I edged a little to clear the monotonous tone of the atmosphere, glanced at Ayah Isabel, started to taste my coffee, put a little sugar and tasted it. I looked around again, seated comfortably ready for any issue that befalls upon me. I saw Mr. Gonzales scrutinize me by the way he looked in the eyes.

“Marco, I have been able to raise my children the proper way of conduct with themselves ever since they’re young, three of them. We loved them…truly, that we gave the best of everything to them. Now, I must tell this personally, what Bryan said to us. That you and Ayah are living in without the sanctity of marriage…do you truly love my daughter?”

Again, I glanced at Ayah Isabel but she’s not looking at me. I can see tears falling down her cheeks.

“Yes, yes I do Mr. Gonzales.”

“Since your loving each other, I decided that your marriage be consummated at once. We will organize this according to our customs and traditions. Don’t have to worry at all; we will finance this with our own. In three days’ time, we can do the preparation.”

I didn’t say anything at this moment, looked at Ayah and hugged her as tears still falling down her cheeks.

“Ayah, is it okay with you?” I whispered her while the whole family looked at us. Ayah didn’t want this to happen; she wanted me to complete my dream, to fulfill my long journey into a successful one.

“Father, Marco has to find a stable job first before anything else, before getting married.”

“There’s no problem for that Ayah. We’ll give sum of money for both of you to start.” His father answered back. Mrs. Gonzales left the table, went into her room, and brought a clutch bag. He gave to Mr. Gonzales.

“Here’s the money that we kept for you Ayah. All of my children have their own sum of money before they get married. Take it.”

Ayah took the money and put in my hand. Everybody left the dining table. Ayah and I went to the garden and seated on the bench. I held her hands, kissed her lips and savor the beauty of the night.

“So, Ayah Isabel, we’re getting married. Your heart is only mine, mine alone.”

“Yes Marco I am all yours, for you alone my love.”

We embraced to the tune of the night, kissed with our love so tenderly, and hoping for the beautiful days ahead. We went together to Ayah’s room which we took our clothes off. The coolness of the night spread on our bodies to unite. Our last connection was never unforgettable unto my mind and still lingered within my soul. I missed Ayah so much; I missed those total satisfactions it gave to me, and the ramblings of my desire for lovemaking. We opened our nakedness to the silence of the room, explored the beauty that was within us totally and shared the blessings that God had given us. Again, the ecstasy within us continue to grow even more while my hands exploring her innermost private parts through which she responded wholly by continuously releasing her fluids as a nectar of my soul. I tasted it with enthusiasm and I even sipped it slowly to sprinkle unto my veins. My hotness spread like wildfire over her body and injected over my imagination like fire in hell.

She smiled at me and whispered, “You’re the best Marco; you are always with me, wherever you go, I’m fully satisfied tonight.”

“You too my love; you gave total satisfaction for me, I love you.”

“I love you too Marco, until death…”

We were doing these wonderful gifts every night in different positions that gave us both the chain to tied-up our emotions and unification.

TO BE CONTINUED###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.






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