Dear Lolo,

If my siblings and I were to have a fans club, You, definitely, would be the first member to sign up. You were the most appreciative of our tiniest feats and the proudest of our achievements.

I was your first grandchild. You, as much as my parents, delighted on my first step, first word, and all my other firsts – including my explanation of what differentiates a girl from a boy. You were there during my Preparatory Graduation. You were too happy to watch me read and deliver the First Reading at the mass. I was also awarded Gold Medalist that day, so you raved about me for a couple of months. Grade School was a different light, I did not belong to the Star Section, but you always had kind words of encouragement. You always gave me books to read. You always wanted me to speak to you in straight English. You read my stories, my prose, my poems. You took pride when my first article came out in our school paper. I was Filipino Literary editor, but my published articles were in English. Haha!

In the midst of our family’s fall, you gave my Mama some cash so I can take qualifying exams for the Makiling School for the Arts. You said my writings were raw yet beautiful, and has to be honed. I did not even try signing up for that School (though in hindsight, maybe I should have had). I graduated high school. You rejoiced when I passed the UPCAT. You were the happiest when I wore the Sablay on my shoulders.

Same things you did for my siblings. You almost danced when my sister topped the National Schools Press Conference for Editorial Writing. When she was commissioned by RCBC to illustrate their children’s book, you did not want to turn the pages, you just wanted to stare at them. I will never forget my brother’s Recognition. I was walking through the halls, looking for a good angle to take a video, then you were there, the teary-eyed kind of proud. My brother looked awful, he was too dark, stripped of several pounds, some concussions on his face, yet you posed proudly beside him. You traveled miles wearing my brother’s oversized polo to see his first promotion of sorts.

Our milestones were yours. When you found out I was pregnant, you cheered on. You were too excited to see your apo sa tuhod. Your face beamed when you first saw him, when you carried him in your arms. You were old, but strong. You know my Mama always told me that in the province, when kids get sick all the time, they call them by a different name to confuse the spirits. You were named Pedro but was eventually called Mateo. I named my first boy after your new nickname, hoping he’d gain the strength your name has afforded you. And he is, indeed, strong. Maybe too much for his age, even. And I hope he’d also be the cheerleader that you were.

Last year, when I first visited you after your stroke, I played my older boy’s video. Your eyes twitched, you smiled or maybe that was an attempt to laugh. I don’t know. I cried inside. The hospital bed did not suit you, you were always on your feet. So I promised you’d carry him when you get better. I promised you’d meet the boy inside my tummy. You never got to see or hold him, but he’s as adorable as his Kuya. Watch over them, Lolo. You have a lot to cheer on for them.

Today, I didn’t feel as lonely or devastated as I was last year. Today, I was relieved. You fought hard, Lolo. You fought well. You fought too long. And today, your fight is over. You deserve this rest. You deserve this peace.

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Thank you, Lolo. I doubt I ever said this as an adult, but I love you.

To my first playmate

Dear She,

We weren’t given the chance to have grown up together. Your family moved away right even before we even reached our teens. Yes, we spent some summer sleepovers together in our grandmother’s house during a few vacations. But we never shared secrets and stories and gushes over our school crushes. We did not bond over music. You didn’t like Dido and Eminem in grade school, so we never really shared earpods. We did have DVD marathons though, or was it VCD? We watched bad movies, covered our eyes while Claudine Barretto and Rico Yan shared an overtime kiss in Got to Believe. You laughed at me when I cried over that Rugrats in Paris scene where Chuckie longed for a mommy. You even sang “I want a mama who lasts forever” while I cry every time. That was hell embarrassing. Those were my few growing up memories with you.

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I no longer remember this day, we had fonder memories than playing with these hats.

We were each’s first playmate and each’s first bully. We neverhad Barbies. We played with rag dolls instead, in our make shift kubo our fathers built for us. I remember us running over to our tita’s hammock. I remember you making fun of me and I making fun of you. I remember how we pulled each other’s hair when we disagreed about things. I remember you running away with my nth pair of slippers because you just wanted to piss me off. You have made me cry until I turn gray.

I was envious of other kids who have shared great and even stupid memories of growing up with their cousins. We never helped each other escape for a date, never spoke about our first kisses, never sneaked out for a night out with friends, and never lied to save each other’s ass. I miss you then. I already missed you during the time we spent apart. And now, all I know is that I have no choice but to miss you for a much longer time.

These memories now, I cannot fathom whether forlorn or favorable. I cannot understand if tears coming forth these remembrances are of sorrow or joy. Your exempt from life is but a liberation from your 2-3 years battle from Cancer. I only seek comfort at the idea that you are in a better and safer place right now.

Until then, She. For now, watch us from up there. Be your husband’s inspiration, your kids’ guardian angel, the grown ups’ (parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunties) strength and wisdom, and of course, my partner in crime from up there.

Everyone misses you.

P.S. Only during the weekend have I known you kept a diary the time you knew you had and fighting cancer. How I wish we exchanged notes then, or composed entries together. But it’s too late now. I just hope your kids will read it so that they’d know how much you loved and wanted to have lived more lives with them.

On Summer’s End

I took the last bus ride home from the beach. I usually liked taking the night trip as I find it more relaxed and comfortable. I used to like passing through dim-lighted streets, making the stars even brighter. I used to like looking through the window where the featured sceneries that were once brimming with life has gone to sleep, dark and peaceful. I used to like the feeling of being above the earth, as if I was cradled in a hammock, with lullaby inducing sleep. However tonight, everything feels far different.

I feel uneasy. There’s something that keeps me awake, aback. My hair still smelt of seawater, making it dry and sticky at the same time. My skin was still warm and moist and dewy. My fingers moved not to the rhythm of the songs in my ipod, but paddled to the waves instead. My feet are a little dry and scaly with the tiniest of sand and dust in between my toes.

I no longer see the stars midst the dim streetlights, nor the streets gone dark and peaceful. All the windows exhibited was the playful sun, the balmy weather, the cheerful waves, and me running to the shore to greet the water. All i know is that, all that has been flashing through me is but the most recent and the swiftest memory. And the more the bus treads on its path, the farther I get from it, inch by little inch.

I wonder what is happening? I wonder how it has gone this way this time.

But all seasons are supposed to be short and temporary, does this mean this will be the end and/of the last?

To Note the Good in Goodbye

I have been drafting my “farewell” letter to artists. I don’t know how to keep it blunt and simple because basically I don’t know what to say. Or maybe I do, it’s just that I might end up mumbling too much in my email, my keyboard can only get wet in tears.

I’ve been in a soon to be three year love and hate affair with artists. There are those I really like and those I am just not simply fond of. But they all seem to be same now, recipients of a relatively bad news.

As much as I don’t want my resignation to look like a bad thing, some artists just think that way. I would just like to think that they I just grew up on them. Tam-awan Village artist for example, they’ve known me since I was an OC and crazy thesis slave. They have witnessed my dedication then for my studies, and now for my work. I even wrote for their show at the gallery. It makes me glad how much this group of artists trusts and believes in me. Our relationship grew from subject/researcher to friends. They’d invite me to all their art and culture events for free. I mean, they got a crazy package of art geekery and fun, it’s insane to say no. But yes, soon I have to decline because I won’t be in the art world anymore. I’d be focusing into fashion and clothing, and it’s the least they care about.

But cmon, I’m just my way on getting rich. Who knows I might be getting boatloads of money soon. And when I get to be, I’d get paintings from you guys. Isn’t that a great thing?

I’ve convinced myself enough, I’m hitting the “send” button.

Bye Bye, Bunnie

Bunnie reached third step of the stairs during play time :3

My Dear Little Thing,

You have spent but a short time with us but you have already brought joy to me even when ice cream and other sweets fail to do so.

You were the smallest yet the first one to hop to the third step of the stairs. My heart took flight, for this wasn’t your usual playtime. You always loved being carried, seeking refuge in my thin lean arms, your paws upon my chest, your tiny little teeth tugging on my blouse, your whiskers bristling against my neck, the white patch up your nose reaches to mine. The small ball of warmth that you are unknowingly felt my heartbeat.

You’re on the other side of the rainbow now, my little black ball of fur. I shall cry no more for there’ll be big bunny angels taking care of you. They shall carry you and give you bunny kisses all the time. They shall share you dinner and snacks of carrots and strawberries and parsley and bananas. Every day shall be a feast. Each moment shall be your playtime.

I love you Bunnie. We (Clyde too) miss you.