Vivid

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Summer never fails to bring out the vivid colors of our surroundings. Here's a little backyard visitor several summers ago.

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Summer never fails to bring out the vivid colors of our surroundings. Here's a little backyard visitor several summers ago.

Vivid nature photography ladybug on leaf

In this photo: a ladybug (aka ladybird)
Setting: Macro
Camera: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W30

“Vivid”




    I took a shot of this ladybug in our backyard eight summers ago and was impressed by how vivid the colors looked; the insect’s brown carapace popped out against the vibrant green background provided by a leaf. It was a slow afternoon on weekend at our home in Nueva Ecija. I could not think of anything to do so I went on exploring our backyard to hunt for interesting stuff. I guess this ladybug was one of my prized finds that day.


    What are ladybugs?


    Ladybugs are small beetles with round and dome-shaped bodies and six small legs. Most people are familiar with spotted ladybugs but they can also have stripes or none at all.  In terms of color, ladybugs range from yellow and deep red, to brown, gray, and black.

    Those who are fond of gardening should rejoice with the presence of ladybugs as they are beneficial insects because they eat pests such as aphids. Yes, they do fly by unfurling their wings hidden below their dome flaps.

    Interestingly, ladybugs figure prominently in children’s songs, poems, accessories, and illustrations, to name a few. Personally, I remember a lot of ladybugs from cartoons that I used to watch when I was a child as well as the children’s story books that I used to read.

    How about you, do you like lady bugs too?


    On short stories and poetry


    On a different note, please allow me to share with you some of the shorts stories and poems I wrote when I was just starting out on blogging. I kept these private because I was not confident with my writing during that time. Looking back, these written pieces do not seem so bad after all. In fact, I realized that they are quite arty and something to be truly proud of. 

    Anyway, here they are. I hope you would enjoy reading the following stories:

    STORY 1

    "Cabby Conversations"

    Have you ever started a conversation with a cab driver? I guess only a few would say yes. As for me, it’s very seldom that I would start a conversation with a cab driver but when I do, it’s usually out of boredom or to keep myself awake. 

    Don’t think that I’m being a snob or anything, it’s just that most of the time I would prefer just sitting there and enjoying the ride than talking (out of stress, perhaps? Hehe). And don’t assume that drivers don’t know how to strike a good conversation. Heck, some of them are the best conversationalists that I’ve ever met! Even better than some degree holders I know (kidding!!). But seriously, ask them and they can give you an instant dissertation of current events, politics, showbiz as well as other people’s lives.

    Anyway, this is an account of some of the most unforgettable and attention-grabbing discussions I’ve had with taxi drivers. I cannot, however, recall the dates when these took place. But before I proceed, there’s one important detail that I would like to point out -- I don’t usually start chatting with cabbies because oftentimes it’s them who start talking first. Hehehe.

    ***

    Cabby #1: It was kinda late when I went out of the office. It was drizzling and there were no jeeps or buses so I decided to take a cab. A few minutes later, I was in an old, almost worn-out cab. The driver looked snooty and impatient. Anyway, traffic was a bit heavy so we’ve had time to talk. first, he told me that he was planning to sell the cab a maybe buy a new one because it’s getting harder to maintain. Cost is too high and so on. Then he proceeded to tell me how Pasay looked like some years ago – vast tracts idle land, not much development, very little traffic. Now, he said, it’s totally different (I would expect so).

    “Ilan taon ka na, hijo? Malamang wala ka pang thirty, ‘no?” he asked me.

    “Wala pa po. 27 pa lang,” I answered back.

    He told me that he’s been a cab driver for 30 or so years, said he used to wait around ermita , manila for foreigners during the days when the red light district of the area was very much aglow.

    “Ako, sa tingin mo ilang taon na,” he asked me once more.

    “56?” I replied

    “Hahaha! Ililibre na kita nyan. Binobola mo yata ako e.”

    “Bakit po?” I asked innocently.

    “79 na ako, hijo” he confessed.

    I was shocked. First, because he doesn’t look at all like 79 years old. Yup, that’s 79 years old. No joke. He said he takes care of his health really well, quit smoking several years back and occasional drinking. Second, because I believe that people should be retired and resting when they hit, maybe, 65 years. I found out that he has a wife but they don’t have a child. I think it sounded sad but it didn’t seem to bother him so I guess he and his wife are contented. By the way, he used to work with a bank and he had a brother who’s a retired General. Cool.

    “Dito na lang tayo sa loob para hindi tayo mahuli,” he said.

    “Salamat, manong. Penge na lang po 30.”

    Cabby #2: One of the funniest drivers I have ever met. Going straight to the story, the guy is having an affair with one of his clients. I cannot clearly remember how his story started but I reckon it began with him telling me about his “circle” of loyal customers who would always text him whenever they need to go somewhere for an errand. Anyway, his story focused on this lady whom he said has three kids and whose husband has been working abroad for like ten years or so.

    “Ganda nya, parang wala pang anak. At sexy pa rin,” he muttered. I think I know where the story’s heading.

    “Ayos pala e,” I answered back, oblivious of what I really said.

    “Text-text lang kami nung una, then nagkayayaan. Tapos yun, may nangyari. Hehe.
    Sabik e. Ngayon regular kami nagkikita,”
    he finally admitted their affair.

    “Namimiss na raw kasi nya,” he said as if trying to justify their actions.

    Funny how some people could be very loose for the sake of pleasure. A married woman with teenage children whose husband is working like a slave abroad…I dunno. Don’t argue by telling me that women have as much (and as equal) rights as men. I think she should just focus on more important things like taking care of their investments, their kids and stuff like that. Talking about the kids, I hope they don’t discover what their mother is doing.

    Anyway, back to the driver. He proceeded to graphically describe to me what they usually do and how he would take this Chinese herbal concoction to make him last longer.

    “Nakakatatlo ako pag uminom ako,” he proudly said. As for me, I think it sounded sick.

    To make the lady happier, he uses this mentholated lubricant which he said is really good in making the girls go gaga. “Parang mababaliw,” he said laughing. Now, that made me laugh as well especially when he described how they would squirm (“they” because he also uses the gel on his wife). He proceeded to tell me some more stories that I couldn’t recall much because I wasn’t really listening anymore. Some were amusing while some were almost repulsive. In general, I felt that a few more minutes of conversation with this guy and I would’ve gone lunatic myself. Thank goodness, at last, we were in Philcoa.

    “Dyan lang po sa McDo,” I said as I hurriedly gave him the payment and went out of his car. At least he thanked me for the tip.

    “Salamat,” I replied automatically.


    Cabby #3: Manong cab driver is like a political-showbiz talk show host. His story went like this: He is regularly contracted by his gay friend who’s also a pimp (aka someone who manages the bookings/schedules of prostitutes).

    “San pinakamalayo nyo napuntahan?” this time, I began the conversation.

    “Pangasinan. Kontrata yun, galing abroad,” he answered with boredom.

    “Madalas ba kayo ma-kontrata?” I pressed on.

    “Hindi naman. Pero may isa ‘kong regular,” he replied

    “Ganun, san yun?” I asked, a bit intrigued.

    “Prend ko na bading. May mga hawak na babae yun. Madalas kontratahin nya ko papunta sa (name of province down south of Luzon). Kliyente nya kasi mayor dun,” he wantonly revealed.

    Whew, I almost couldn’t say anything for like five seconds or more. I couldn’t help but suspiciously think that the good mayor is spending local government funds for his own personal fun. I mean, no one can deny the fact that he has constituents who are subsiding on meager provisions while he is basking in the company of his pretty lover. On the one hand, I’m not too surprised with the story because it’s not something new. It’s just a bit alarming because the money could’ve been used for something more
    productive. But then again, I could be wrong. The mayor might be decent enough not to use for himself his people’s funds.

    Anyway, I kept quiet most of the time, just answering some of the questions Manong might ask and agreeing (or disagreeing) with his comments and observations.

    “McDo lang tayo, manong,” I said and gave him the payment with the customary Salamat.


    ***
    There you go. Three “interesting” stories collected from three cab drivers. I think I have some other cabby stories to share, I just cannot remember them all. I’ll do another post when I recall these anecdotes.


    STORY 2

    "Counting Days"

    I served my last day at the Bank last October 30, 2009 -- after exactly two years and two months of working for one of the country’s largest private commercial banks.

    To the people who know what I’ve been through at the office, this is one of the happiest days of my life. I was in a state of bliss indeed. Why wouldn’t I be, at least I’d be out of the rut where I (and my colleagues) seem to have been “stuck.” Whew, at last I wouldn’t have to put up with ridiculous (and mostly irrational) screaming fits anymore. Plus, my days of praying for miracles are over. That easy. Or is it?

    Well, honestly-speaking it’s not. It’s almost, how do you describe that, bittersweet? On one hand, you’re happy and relieved. On the other, you suddenly feel saddened. The two weeks leading to my last day were the most “critical.” Suddenly, the reality that you are already saying goodbye to your dearest friends is already sinking in. Admittedly, I am one of those persons who are almost in torment when muttering the word goodbye. What I didn’t like the most was the fact that I'd get nostalgic almost every minute. Thoughts (happy, of course) randomly pop up in my head. Sometimes, I feel that a good cry (and maybe a nervous breakdown) is the only option. To better describe it, the feeling was so low that I entertained the thought of revoking my resignation. Though obviously I didn't do that.

    As the days passed, and my “big day” approached nearer, I began to feel a certain peace. Like acceptance, as illustrated in the Kubler-Ross model of grief, wherein you begin to, well, admit the fact that one phase of your life has ended and you are about to tread a new journey. There are uncertainties, for sure, wherever that destination may be. It might not even be as prospective or even as obliging as the previous territory but, similar to others who have been through near-trauma experiences, I just want to get out, move forward, and start anew. A leap of faith, so to speak.

    In any case, I’m just hopeful that this new voyage wouldn’t be as turbulent. With renewed faith and optimism, I’m looking forward to counting better days as I live out each moment.

    _________________

    “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”

    Mary Anne Radmacher

    “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

    Bill Cosby


    STORY 3

    "It doesn't get any easier"

    It’s that time of the year again, the conclusion of a full month of motherly love, regular family gatherings, and catching up on stories. I dread stepping onto the NAIA pavement for it means saying goodbye once again. We wouldn’t see each other for another year. Year after year, for four years now, I pray to the heavens to provide me with all the strength in the world in stifling my tears. I didn’t want her to see me cry for it would make her even sadder. And that fact alone would even be more heartbreaking for me. With a heavy heart, I just gave her a smack on the lips, managed a smile and said the customary, “Ingat ka.”

    Nanay first tried her luck abroad in 1993 but she lasted for only two months. I was in fifth grade then. My father was a teacher and she was a nurse at a local district hospital. I wouldn’t say we had much back then but having no siblings, my parents could provide me with adequate necessities as well as send me to a private school. But similar to any doting mother, Nanay wanted to give us more — a house of our own so we wouldn’t have to rent, better clothes, more toys for me, probably a family car, and so on. I didn’t hear of her plan of going abroad until about a week before her flight. I was intentionally kept out of the loop because they knew I couldn’t be persuaded to letting her go.

    She was slated to work as a nurse in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was a two-year contract. Even at such a young age, I’ve already had my reservations about the country. From my history classes, I knew it was a land where women didn’t have any rights. Add to that the huge cultural differences between Arabs and Filipinos. I didn’t want her to go and endure such a sacrifice. No amount of prodding and bribing could ever make me say yes, not even the prospect of having all the toys that I want. What with the terrifying news about abuses on OFWs frequently broadcasted on national television. I thought it will be the longest two years of my life. She consoled me by saying, “Isipin mo na lang, anak, magbabakasyon ako.”

    On the days before her flight, I tried to act as normally as I can. I went on with my usual activities — studying, playing and seeing my cousins. However, no matter how much I try to ignore it, I can still feel the constant lump in my throat and the clandestine cries at night, which are becoming more frequent as the dreaded day drew nearer.

    I clearly remember that day when we accompanied her to NAIA. She was scheduled to fly at 5:30 p.m. The sky was gray and it was drizzling a bit, which further heightened the gloom I was feeling. At such an early age, I remember telling myself to put up a brave face. I didn’t want to cry so that Nanay wouldn’t be bothered by any sad thoughts while she was away.

    Unfortunately, come departure time, the tears that I was gallantly trying to hold welled up as if they were flowing from an open dam. It was misery multiplied three times. Amidst sobs, we said our goodbyes, kissed and hugged tightly.

    While in Riyadh, she would make frequent long-distance calls but she was always crying. She was having a hard time adjusting to Middle Eastern culture. Nanay missed us a lot. We were likewise exchanging letters almost weekly, but this cannot compensate for the sadness and longing we were feeling. Clichéd as it may sound but no amount of money could ever make up for the years that a mother and child are separated. So after just two months, she decided to go back home. We had debts to pay but we decided to worry about that later. My parents said they could manage to pay these off in a few years if they both continue working. Luckily, Nanay just took a leave from the hospital she was working for so she was able to go back. It was somehow fortunate that we are just a small family but for other OFWs, this is not the case. They have to bear the anguish of being away from their loved ones because they are left with no other option in supporting their families financially.

    Life went on for us. We soon moved to a new house, I finished high school, went to college and obtained a degree. I was already working for a year when Nanay told me about her plans of going back abroad. Nothing much has changed; I still protested and tried various arguments but to no avail. I asked her if we were hard up. She said no, but she wanted to earn more so that she could retire early. We still didn’t have much, but at least expenses were a bit more manageable as we were all working.

    Nanay explained that the prospect of waiting for retirement is not so bright since the hospital she was working for does not offer a very competitive package. Whereas if she went abroad, she could easily save up and stop working before she reaches sixty. Plus, Nanay added that she wanted to fulfill her dream of working overseas. She wanted growth and was seeking to prove to herself that she has become a stronger person. She is more worried about the future. She didn’t want to retire penniless.

    The only consolation that I got is that she’s going to work in Madrid, Spain. At least Spain somehow has a cultural connection with the Philippines as the latter was once a colony. It boasts of beautiful architecture and scenic sites plus it is predominantly Catholic. The thought that she is working in such a lovely country gave me some solace.

    So in June of 2006, after 13 years, we were back on the same road. I thought the years would make a difference and douse the old emotions but I was wrong. I still felt miserable. I tried doing my best to hide my feelings by initiating small talks. I reckon it will take our minds off the impending sadness that comes with goodbyes. I was mistaken. We were all mature enough to realize that we were just trying to trick ourselves.

    At last, we’ve arrived at the NAIA departure area. Each minute seemed so fast. I was secretly wishing for possible delays. None came. Then it was time to go. I mustered all my power in suppressing my cracking voice. I tried smiling like I was the happiest guy in the world. I gave Nanay a kiss on the lips, the way I used to do as a kid whenever she went off to work. “Ingat, Nay,” I said in a deceptively strong voice. She was crying when she went inside the airport. “I’ll see you next year,” I whispered in my head and murmured a prayer.

    It’s never really easy saying goodbye, but at least I was successful this time in fighting back the tears.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ivan Carlo Jose, 28, is an assistant manager at a commercial bank in Quezon City.


    STORY 4

    "Wishing on another silly star"

    (This is supposed to be a serious [read -- dramatic] post]

    Please forgive the title. I just couldn’t think of something that could better describe this post. Number one -- wishes, to some extent, are like jokes. They are “half-meant” (or in a way, sincere) although I believe that the percentage of truth in a wish is around 75 to 80%. Number two – I’m wishing on a silly star because I reckon it is only he who could understand a childish blabber.

    So, on with my topic…

    For the past two weeks now, my somewhat ridiculous mind has been “cooking” something that’s worthy of writing in a grade school’s activity notebook. Well, I’m creating this scenario in my head wherein God will send a fairy Godfather (or a magical uncle?) who will grant my every whim. Another "what if?" thing to be exact. This was definitely not something new but I guess it was just a way, a sort of diversion, to ease my throbbing mind.

    The reason...well, I was kinda stressed out with work lately. I once again found myself in a situation that I swore I wouldn't be caught into anymore. It was really bad (at least for me) because this time I was already blaming myself for it. It was just so sad to think that maybe it was I who was wrong all along. Hence, the wish to be just somewhere quiet and cool and breezy.

    Anyway, if my wishes were to be granted I guess I would still ask for something more important (like world peace…hehe) since it would be such a pity if I would just waste the opportunity on trivial stuff. So, spontaneously I thought of things that I feel would be of much value and significance to my life. These need not be profound in order to warrant inclusion in this list.

    If all my wishes would be granted, I would want to be:

    1. Smarter. Not necessarily book-smart but more like street-smart. I believe that being street-smart allows one to handle a variety of situations as well as people/personalities. Likewise, a street-smart person if very confident and sure of himself. He is strong-willed and would not easily give up.

    2. Good at presentations/talking. OK, I admit it. I still have “stage fright.” I get nervous when I am required to talk, even if it’s just a small and informal meeting with my bosses. I’d like to gain more confidence.

    3. Skillful with handling people. I don’t really know why, but I seem to be bound to be in a rift with somebody wherever I may be and however I handle the situation.

    4. More creative. I’d like to experience how it is to express oneself through the arts. Plus, I want to do more and achieve more.

    As they say, it’s always free to daydream. These may or may not come true but that will depend entirely on me. I can act and do something about it. To begin with, the things I stated above aren’t really miracles. Or I can just sit back and wait for my enchanted Godfather to come and snap his magical fingers so that my all my heart’s desires will come true. What do you think?

    Anyway, I believe I have more in my head but more for my family and the people who are important to me. I’ll post a separate blog on these.

    Parting Words


    The stories above are mostly personal, which, I think, is the best way to write pieces in order for them to be authentic and relatable. I kind of like my style back then – straightforward, no pretense, direct from the heart. Ah, the memories of the days gone by, the voice of one’s youth. It’s nice to be transported to those good times every once in a while.


    Also read: 6 Reasons to add Sonya's Garden in your Tagaytay Itinerary

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