A white rose, a serenade

[Update: I used to write a regular column in a Tagalog daily in town, Pilipinas Bulletin (PB). However, the paper eventually closed down. My column titled "Good News Express" became my way of sharing the little good news of everyday living --stories of kindness, hope, honesty, personal triumphs, and even love. I am sharing here one of the columns that I wrote there. It is in Tagalog but I included an English translation below.]

Doon sa nakaraang dalawang column natin dito sa Good News Express, nai-kwento ko sa inyo ang mga magagandang experiences ko mula sa mga taong hindi ko man lang kilala. Katulad din ng naunang mga kwento, ito ay tungkol sa kabaitan na natanggap ko mula sa dalawang tao sa magkahiwalay na pagkakataon.

I forgot to get his name but the evening was as quiet as this one. (Photo taken in Mui Ne, Vietnam, by the author)

Ang una ay tungkol sa isang flower vendor sa labas ng Malate Catholic Church. Hindi ko na masyadong matandaan kung anong taon ito nangyari. Ang naalala ko lamang ay pumunta ako doon upang magsimba para sa pagpanaw ng isang kaibigan. Paglabas ko ng simbahan, nag-desisyon akong bumili ng white roses para sa ina ng kaibigan dahil alam ko kung gaano ka-close ang mag-ina. Around that time kasi, alam kong nailibing na ang kaibigan ko at naisip ko na mas mainam na lang na magpadala ng flowers para sa ina na alam kong matindi pa din ang pangungulila.

Nakita ko ang isang matandang lalaking vendor sa may pinto ng simbahan. Marami siyang tinitindang roses at nagustuhan ko yung mga kulay puti kasi halos hindi pa sila namumukadkad. Bumili ako ng isang dosena at dali-dali niyang inayos ang mga iyon into a bouquet. “Ang ganda naman po!” Sambit ko sa kanya pagkatapos niya itong ayusin. Napangiti siya at nang ibinibigay na niya ang sukli ko, bigla ay inabutan niya ako ng isang long-stemmed white rose. Para daw sa akin at libre ito!  Sa sobrang tuwa at pagka-touched ko, muntik ko na siyang mayakap. Suddenly out of words, wala na akong nasambit kundi “Thank you po!” na paulit-ulit.

Umalis ako sa kanyang puwesto na may magandang ngiti sa aking labi. Tahimik ko ding ipinagdasal na sana maubos lagi ang mga benta niyang bulaklak. Kung nasaan man siya ngayon, sana ay patuloy siyang nagbibigay ng ngiti sa iba at bagama’t masasabi na salat siya sa materyal na bagay, sigurado ako na mayaman ang puso niya.

Ang pangalawang kuwento ko naman ngayon ay tungkol sa isang bakasyon ko sa Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Matagal na rin na panahon ito kaya hindi ko na sigurado kung kailan ito nangyari. Ang naaalala ko lang ay mag-isa ako noon na nagbabakasyon sa isang tahimik na resort na abot-tanaw ang dagat (pero hindi ganun kalapit sa beach).

Ang mga silid ay nakahilera by the poolside. May mga balkonahe ang mga silid kaya puwede kang maupo doon upang mag-relax o kumain. On my second night at the resort, I decided to sit in the balcony of my room at the second level. Mga past 8:00 pm na yun nang maya-maya ay napansin ko na may tumutugtog ng harmonica sa may poolside. Napakaganda ng musika niya. The type that can stir your soul. Hindi ko makita ang mukha ng musician dahil madilim na at doon siya naka-pwesto sa kabilang gilid ng pool.

I was enjoying his music and maya-maya, hindi ko na napigilan ang sarili ko at pumalakpak na ako at sumigaw ng “Ang galing mo!” He stopped playing and shouted back, “Thank you! Ano ang gusto mong tugtugin ko for you?” Wow, sabi ko sa sarili. Ok ito ah, libreng personal concert! Sinigaw kong muli, “It might be you!” At yun nga, tinugtog niya ang favorite song ko. Hay, ang sarap makinig lalo na at sobrang tahimik nang gabi.

Tumugtog pa siyang muli at nang gumabi na ay nag-goodnight at nagpa-salamat na muli ako sa kanya. Kinabukasan, naalala kong itanong sa Reception staff kung nasa resort pa yung tumugtog ng harmonica the night before. Sayang, umalis na daw. I wanted to thank him again at makilala ko man lang sana, sabi ko. Pero naisip ko din later, when I was sitting at the veranda again, na baka mainam nga na hindi ko siya nakilala. Kasi parang may “misteryo” ang gabi. It’s like a wonderful gift from heaven na hindi na natin kailangan pang usisain kung kanino nanggaling o kung bakit lumagpak sa kinatatayuan natin.

It is enough that we experienced the moment, that we were gifted by another act of kindness.

________

English translation:

In my previous two columns here in Good News Express, I have shared with you the beautiful experiences that I had encountered with complete strangers. Similar to the previous stories, these are stories about random acts of kindness that I had experienced with two strangers in separate encounters.

The first one is about a flower vendor outside the Malate Catholic Church. I can no longer remember in what year did this happen. What I can fully remember is that I went to Church so I can pray for the repose of a friend who just passed on. When I was on my way out, I decided to buy a bunch of white roses for the mother of my friend who departed, knowing and understanding their closeness. Around that time, I knew that my friend was already buried and thought it was wiser and more considerate to simply send flowers to a mother who is still in so much grief over the loss of a son.

I saw an old vendor just outside the door of the church. He was selling a lot of roses but I preferred the white ones that were not yet in full bloom. I bought a dozen of the white ones and the old man immediately arranged them into a nice bouquet. I blurted, “They are so beautiful!”, after he handed the roses to me. He smiled at me and when he was giving me my change, he suddenly gave me a long-stemmed white rose. He said it is for me and that it is free! I was so touched and joyful that I almost hugged him for this gesture. Suddenly out of words, I simply said “Thank you po!” over and over again.

I left his kiosk with a beautiful smile on my face. I prayed that he will always be able to sell all of his flowers. Wherever he may be at this time, I hope that he continues to put a smile on the face of others. Even if he does not have much in life, I am sure that he is a rich man in his heart and in his spirit.

The second story is related to a vacation that I had in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. I also can no longer remember the exact year it happened. However, what I can remember is that I was there on my own, for a brief vacation, in a resort overlooking—but not quite near—the sea.

The rooms are designed so that they border the poolside. There are balconies by the rooms so you can simply sit there while you relax or eat. On my second night at the resort, I decided to sit in the balcony of my room at the second level. It was past 8:00 pm when someone began playing harmonica by the poolside. He was playing a beautiful music. The type that can stir your soul. I cannot see the face of the musician because it was dark already and that he was seated on the other side of the pool.

I was immensely enjoying his music and, later, I could no longer contain myself so I clapped and shouted “You are good!” He stopped playing and shouted back, “Thank you! What do you want me to play for you?” Wow, I told myself. This is good, a free personal concert! I shouted back, “It might be you!” And there, he played my favorite song. I sighed and enjoyed listening and the moment, which was made more beautiful because the evening was so quiet.

He played more songs and when it became late, he bid me goodnight. I thanked him and watched him leave. The next day, I remembered to ask the Reception staff if the guy playing the harmonica the night before was still there in the resort. Too bad, he already left. I wanted to thank him again and, at the very least, get his name. However, later on, when I was sitting at the veranda again, I thought, perhaps it is better that I did not get to know him…because it seemed that the evening has a certain mystery. It’s like a wonderful gift from heaven that we don’t have to question or figure out where it came from or why it fell on the exact spot where we are standing.

It is enough that we experienced the moment, that we were gifted by another act of kindness.

 

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Do we always need a dead hero?

[Below is lifted from the Editorial I wrote for Pilipinas Bulletin, a transrail newspaper in the Philippines.]

Nagluluksa ang sambayanan sa pagyao ng isang napaka-dakilang ina at Pangulo. Marami nang naisulat tungkol sa ating ina at inspirasyon na si President Corazon Aquino: sa pag-gunita natin ng kahulugan nya sa ating buhay bilang Pilipino ay pinupukaw din natin ang ating diwa upang muling gumising ang ating “natulog” na mithiin at pagkilos para sa pagbabago.

May the Yellow Ribbon remain in our hearts and minds forever.

May the Yellow Ribbon remain in our hearts and minds forever.

Tunay ngang napakalungkot ng paglisan nya. Ngunit parang mas nakapanlulumo na kinakailangan pa natin ng isa na namang pagpanaw upang mapukaw muli ang ating diwa. Do we always need a dead hero or heroine in order to unify and call for change? Sana hindi. At sana hindi ito maging katulad ng mga nakaraang mga kaganapan na pagkatapos ng ilang linggo o buwan lamang ay nililibing na din natin sa ating mga alaala.

Sometimes, we tend to be forgetful or we simply get tired so easily. Are we all too tired to remember the lessons from our past? We will give more honor to both Ninoy and Cory by not forgetting. Let us not forget the legacy they left behind. They wanted us to fight for change. They wanted us to lead our people towards greatness. They wanted us to make a difference.

Malayo pa ang ating lalakbayin. Pero sana sa ating patuloy na paglalakbay, kasama natin hindi lang ang alaala nina Ninoy at Cory kundi pati na rin ang init at sigaw ng EDSA I noon: ang pagwawagi ng katotohanan, hustisya, at pagbabago. At sana, huwag na natin pang hintayin na may bayani na namang papanaw bago tayo mapukaw at magka-isang muli.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin