Sting’s DESERT ROSE.
Sting’s DESERT ROSE.
That my friend is what we call an “overpass”. A “skywalk” for the pedestrian. A haven for commuters. And a torture for people like me who abhor climbing up the stairs. I particularly dislike the overpass near where I work because it’s filthy and it stinks to high heavens. I learned that its maintenance is shared by two districts which explains why on some days, the other half is clean and the other is lined with professional bums and beggars waiting for night fall to mess up the other side.
Bok, our helper’s six years old son, came to live with us temporarily after Typhoon Bopha wrecked their house in December 2012. Fortunately for this kid he sustained only minor injuries. One would think that he would be traumatized after seeing flying galvanized sheets and coconut trees but it was all one big adventure for him. Staying in an evacuation center however, isn’t. After two days he started to develop rash on his face and an open wound from unknown incidents. Hence we told her Mom to pick him up from the makeshift center and have him spent the entire Christmas season with us or until after their house in the province have been rebuilt.
Now our home isn’t exactly child-friendly, meaning – we don’t have stuff to entertain kids at home except for television and some animated DVDs that I don’t watch (my brother does). I wasn’t surprised when Bok, probably bored from counting kitchen tiles where her Mom works most of the time, came to knock on my bedroom door and explored my room. I didn’t mind really having kids in my bedroom. There’s nothing to break and it is as boring as the kitchen tiles.
Artwork! This will keep Bok busy, I thought. So I gave him some papers, rulers of different shapes and sizes, as well as colored pencils to draw pictures with. He wasn’t much of a talker but every now and then he would stand behind me and ask what I’m doing and I would explain to him that I do what ”old people” do: Write (actually just a list of items to buy at the grocery for the New Year’s Eve celebration).
Half an hour later he came to show me his masterpiece. A half-finished house with a roof and a wall.
“Wow!” I patted his head while I praised his artwork. “What’s this space here?” I asked, pointing out the vacant lot adjacent to the house.
“A garden.” he replied.
“Aha…and what will you plant in your garden?”
“Ahhm…Ligid!” Was his odd reply.
“Ligid?” I looked at him quizzically. Is there a plant locally known as Ligid in this country? I can’t remember a plant called Ligid in Tagalog, Ilonggo, or Visayan dialects. Then I started to think of Ligid and its literal translation in English – Tires…and started seeing motorcycle tires jutting up from the ground where Bok intended to plant it. ”You mean motorcycle wheels? car wheels? Like, wheel-wheesl?”
“Ligid (Tires)! To plant flowers in!” He gushed. Oh! He must be thinking about repurposing old tires as a plant box.
“Well go ahead and finish it then.” I shook the hair on his head and gave him a thumbs-up sign. “We’ll show your Mom what you drew later, ok?”
“Okay!” Bok gave me a thumbs-up sign.
These words were perhaps one of the last audible statements that my Dad uttered weeks before he passed away in 2011. My Dad has told me time and time again that I am beautiful – he even wrote it on the back pages of the books he would buy for me during his trips abroad…but I never took his words seriously. I thought that it’s just something all fathers tell their daughters…especially if they’re kind of “homely” – because that’s exactly how I see myself. A plain, character-less Jane Doe. When he said those words, I was taken aback. For the first time. What could have possibly inspired him to say such things? Surely not the boxing match he was watching on TV. Then I realized that Dad had this far away look that’s becoming more and more frequent. Like he was constantly lost in his thoughts and comes back with statements that would leave us to ponder on.
I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately and told my Mom about that one moment when he spoke those words. My Mom surmised that there’s probably a wisdom to it because Dad could be a little bit cryptic sometimes when he was still well. Full of hidden messages, knowing looks, winks, and “read-between-the lines” jab.
Perhaps my Dad’s definition of ”beautiful” was never the physical, aesthetic kind. He probably meant that in his eyes, I am not or ever will be ugly and I would love to know, or even believe… just for the loveliness of that thought to linger on, that my father’s love for me is greater than what I can offer to the world, bigger than my fears, and sees beyond my failures.
(Thanks Google images)
Lunch at home on a Sunday is a greaseless affair. My mom would always serve seafood in three ways: soup, ceviche, and grilled. Last Sunday we had the baby tuna ceviche prepared in the most simple way. The fish was cut into bite-size cubes and washed in white coconut vinegar. The cucumber and white radish were peeled, quartered and thinly sliced. Together, we mixed the vegetables with grated ginger and minced shallots before adding the cubed tuna and season the entire dish with salt and black pepper.
Another version of this includes sliced bird’s eye chili pepper but my mom will have none of the spicy stuff.