Friday, July 29, 2011


Tomorrow's my birthday. I am supposed to like it and be in a celebrating mood but, like in the past few years, am not. However, people still remember - strangely. I guess, I do matter. Here's one story that happened last night, and I thank you Manang Alice. ;-)


Last night, mulling on the possibility of celebrating my birthday penniless, I chanced upon Manang Alice acoss my gate – the balut vendor who has been my peripatetic, source of local gossip through the years. I approached her, said my nightly greeting and was about to sit beside her on the sidewalk when she greeted me chirpily, “Hapi Bertdey!” and handed me what looked like a balut hastily wrapped in colored Christmassy plastic wrap.

I was surprised by her gesture and, hesitatingly at first, accepted her small gift with a hearty ‘thank you.’ I took the small bottle of vinegar, dabbed a bit of the sour liquid with some rock salts on the opened duck egg with a sliver of a chick showing (good thing it was dark and I won’t be able to fully see the massacred embryonic flesh inside), when I had to ask her, “Manang, eh paano ninyo nalaman? At saka sa susunod na araw pa bertdey ko eh.” (Manang, how did you know. My birthday isn't until the next day.)

While giving change to a coughing, emaciated tricycle driver who bought a stick of Champion, she muttered, “Naku, mabuti na yung maaga. Uwi ako ng Cavite sa Sabado. At saka pa-tenk yu na rin yan dun sa binigay mo sa akin na painting mo sa akin nung bertdey ko.” (Better greet you early. I'll be in Cavite on Saturday. It's also my way of saying thank you for the painting you gave me before.)*

“Salamat Manang ha? Pero paano pa rin ninyo naalala?,” (Thank you Manang ha. But still, how did you know?) I asked, and thankful still even if she missed her mark by a day.

“Sa lahat ng taon na nakilala kita eh isang beses lang kitang nakita na umuwi sa apartment mo nang lasing at bertdey mo yun. Kasi bumili ka sa akin ng kendi tapos sabi mo, ‘Hapi bertdey to me Manang’. Kung naaalala mo, nandito nuon yung pamangkin kong bakla at sinabi mo na seksi siya. Eh bertdey din niya nun at sinabi sa iyo. Tapos, sabi mo, ‘Hapi Bertdey Seksi’, tapos hinalikan mo siya. Kaya simula noon, naaalala ko na bertdey mo.” (All these years I've known you, I only saw you get drunk only once while going home to your apartment. You bought candy from me and said, 'Happy birthday to me Manang'. And if you remember, my gay nephew was with me and you told called him sexy. It was also his birthday that time, he told you and you said, 'Happy Birthday sexy' and you kissed him. Since then I remember your birthday.)

Shocked, I asked her, “Ginawa ko yun?” (I did that?)

Manang, “Oo.” (Yes.)

I was silent for a few minutes while I finished my balut. Then I turned to her and smiled, “Salamat Manang. Hapi bertdey din ulit dun sa pamangkin ninyo.” (Thank you Manang. Tell your nephew happy birthday too.) I stood up and was about to cross the street, when she called me, “Oo nga pala. Hanggang ngayon eh tinatanong pa rin ng pamangkin ko cellphone number mo.” (By the way, until now he's still asking me for your number.)

I just smiled at her and walked on to where my gate is.


*It wasn’t really a painting as she mentioned but a small framed drawing I did of her from memory, with her basket of balut and the box of yosi (cigarettes) she peddles on the sidewalk at night.

Some definitions for non-Filipinos:
- balut - boiled duck's eggs with a day-old chick inside.
- Champion - brand of cheap cigarettes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Last Saturday, Marga invited me to a mass wedding of couples but I never made it. Afraid to be caught in a downpour, I opted to stay dry and warm in my apartment. But NOT the couples who braved the rains, wind and mucked-up traffic to say their "I do's".

As a promise to her (for being unable to go) I am posting pictures of the wedding here. This mass wedding was organized by KMBI - Kabalikat Para sa Maunlad na Buhay Inc.


Manila, Philippines, June 25, 2011

The brides in their white gowns. They are all the perfect picture of the blushing bride.

Rains and floods did not even stop them! 563 couples in 66 branches nationwide exchanged vows and tied the knot despite of Falcon’s raging winds and rain as KMBI spearheaded its annual mass wedding.

I love this couple. No flood can stop them from heading up to the altar.

“Malaki ang tulong nito. Una, spiritually blessed ka ng God, blessed ka ng minister, blessed ka ng malaki ang benefit nito,” (This really helps. First, you are blessed by God, you are blessed by the minister, you are blessed by the it’s really beneficial,”) says Mr. Joel Clavecilla, branch manager of Tandang Sora, Quezon City. they join others in saying their 'I do's' to each other.

It was an emotional, fun- and Spiritual-filled event as these couples made a covenant before men and God in the sanctity of marriage. Couples from Valenzuela branch even had to ride on a truck and pedicab, with the brides’ wedding gowns safely kept in a plastic bag, just to make it to the venue.

The dashing groom and the blushing bride. Pure bliss and hope for the future.

For some, it was a dream come true as some couples had concerns as to what kind of wedding and church they would attend because of difference in religious beliefs.

After the wedding ceremonies, the couples feasted on the food during the reception.

Ronalyn Marino, a program member from Tandang Sora and a Catholic, who got married to Radia Solaiman Disomimba, a Muslim, said that she’s grateful because KMBI has prepared an ecumenical wedding for couples like them aside from the financial support it gave for the wedding. “Maraming problem – sa religion, sa family...ngayon, binigay sa amin ng KMBI ang pagsasama na tiyak para sa kanya...Para maging legal ang pamilya namin, maging legal yung pagsasama namin.” (There were problems – in religion and KMBI gave us the kind of wedding that suits legalize our family and our relationship.”) Ronalyn and Radia already have a child.

No wedding would be complete without the multi-tiered cake. In this case, what they had were cupcakes.

The ecumenical mass wedding was joined by couples of different spiritual background and orientation who have been living together and most already have children. This is one of the organization’s major activities that are being taken care of by the Transformation Department. It aims to reach one of the components of its SEES (Spiritual, Economic, Environmental, Social) program, which is to draw people near to God and have a deeper relationship with Him.

There was dancing...

...and there was singing.

There was love in the air.

And with the floods still at their feet outside, each couple then rode off into the mid-afternoon rains with a smile on their faces proudly announcing to the world, "Yes, we are husband and wife."

As an afterthought: I am glad there were no 'wacky' photos or poses that many wedding photographers are wont to do amongst many of those so-called 'modern weddings' of today. A traditional, simple and heartfelt wedding - like these pictures show - can still bring a tear of joy in one's eyes even to this confirmed bachelor for life.

To the couples who got wed, may you lead a life of bliss and joy as husbands and wives. :-)