Jhois and I were invited to attend a celebration that we always wanted to be a part of. However, after Papa’s ordeal we cannot help but feel unsafe whenever there are invitations such as this. We did not want to infect anyone (NCR was recovering from the omicron-variant spread) and we did not want to be infected as well (heaps of deliverables made us sleep for only a few hours, allowing us to be more vulnerable to health hazards or contaminations). I decided to scribble Papa Nardo and Nanay Linda’s story and relish it as if we were there to witness this momentous event.
If I could personify Hope, she would not definitely be your overprotective Mom who would ask you to stop whenever you get hurt along the way or your on-guard bestfriend who would willingly take up your fight and let it be his or her own. I see Hope as your Coach (imagine Hidilyn Diaz’s Coach Gao Kaiwen) who would stare at you, unblinking while you’re doing the drills and whenever you exclaim, “It hurts already!”. I bet he would answer, “It should! So you mean, you want to stop?”. I wish you’d answer a big, “No!” because by then you’d understand that what matters most to us, supposed to hurt and when it does, it signals like a road sign that you’re now leaving your comfort zone.
I wrote this to remember those 20,000 or more souls who have been killed from Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines. I mourn for those 54 children or more who were tangled into this mess from a blood-hungry ex-Leader. I cannot imagine the grief that their families have gone through when they continue to seek justice for the lives slain from the very person, appointed by the Constitution to uphold it. Killing never solves anything. If the government is really serious about change, substance abuse or drug addiction is just a symptom, not the cause of these systemic ills in the country. Good leaders would check why there’s this urge or pull to do drugs. You can never remove poverty in the picture. Good leaders can make use of various rehabilitation interventions through a mental health facility in order to heal their addiction. We don’t downplay a structural form of evil in our society by killing (accused) people. We go deeper to the causes and search for any misconceptions why they gravitate towards substance abuse and work our way up towards healing and restoration.
Can you get mad at somebody you consider as a traitor or a hypocrite? Unquestionably, it should be a yes but don’t you think she should be mad at her own doing because she betrayed herself first before she did it to others? A traitor or a hypocrite cannot stand the Truth. S/He gets offended by them, especially upon seeing the mirror of reality in which s/he decided to be. This is why s/he prefers to dwell in the bliss of ignorance because s/he wanted to keep away from any accountabilities. Maya Angelou’s right all along. Courage is the primo-supreme among all the values you could ever have because without it you cannot practice any values you profess to be important. You need courage to manifest every virtue you claim to have and your past experience can affirm it. A hypocrite doesn’t know what is important except for his/her safety at the expense of others who s/he intentionally conspires with until everything backfires to her/him, the source of all misdeeds like a ticking bomb on the edge of massive unfortunate and pitiful explosion. S/he meant harm but everything in Life comes back like a boomerang.
I wrote this out of rage and exasperation to our former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the time when death tolls escalated even more due to covid contaminations across cities and provinces. Even if you were a healthcare worker or a frontliner risking your every breath in order to serve people and earn a living at the same time, it is not enough reason for a President to allow his people to surrender their lives without him, being the Leader doing and moving all “heaven and earth” means to save and protect them. Frustratingly, all he did was a quick press conference, “encouraging” them in a very ironic and humanely incomprehensible manner, “Give up your lives. Be a hero.” Who would want to die and leave their families behind just for the namesake, “hero or heroine”? Why do you play God, selecting whose lives should remain intact or unscathed and whose should suffer and perish? I can’t believe that a person who holds so much power and control can cower into the corner and convince his people to die for their country without him giving all the fight he could ever mobilize. Where’s the sense of agency, the recognition that you have enough courage, skills, ingenuity and resources to protect the lives of those who are at the brink of death? How inhumanely pathetic could you be to distinguish that your life is much more worthy to save and that theirs have to end? Who’s overly entitled, again?
It took me one year, one month, two weeks, and a day to finally place this event here. My father passed away last 10th of June 2021. Nothing can ever prepare anyone for this unspeakable day that your loved one would finally resign from this earthly labor and pain. Although back in April 2021, I remember when Jhois and I were already recovering from covid, I kept having nightmares for more than a week. I even mentioned this to a friend on a group chat because it started bothering me when I didn’t know what those meant. Looking back, I think Death, as the “Ender of Things” will always be jealous of Love because the latter is something he cannot put to an end. Love continues to exist even if Death interrupts in between.
I wrote this at the time when Jhois and I were recovering from the dreaded covid virus. Since she had it first, I honestly thought the virus wouldn’t hit me because we observed all the precautions needed. I even completed my daily activities with more zest. When I got it after three days, I really wanted that we could recover from this fast. I remember I argued a couple of times with my father over the phone then, persuading him to take the vaccine because we were already feeling this growing terror of how this virus was affecting our bodies. We didn’t have the vaccines yet. We were still waiting for our turn. The elderly group was prioritized at that time. Because of this, it took us 45 days to get back to our feet. Now, we have all the shots that we need but the sudden spikes of covid positive cases in different regions of our country always keep us on our toes.
I think the opposite of being a good friend is to be the questioning one. To ask something is to dive deep into uncharted territories that your friend may probably hasn’t gone to yet or hasn’t confronted yet. You don’t want to preempt a process that s/he should have started because you don’t want to be rude. Sometimes, being a nice friend kills you. I never thought being smiled at would hurt my core the most because at times, a smile is a tiny grain of deception in the world of truths and I prefer the truth. I have always been comfortable in the rarefied atmosphere of questioning. You don’t want the people you love to get drowned first, too late for you to help them. In spite of that, you keep waiting— most likely longer than you expected until they feel safe to open up their pains.