Thursday, June 30, 2005

dreams and what do they mean anyway...

And do they mean anything at all.

Last night, I dreamed that I was back in the Philippines. I was back in school and had bought two tickets to this wonderful concert that me and my sister were longing to go to. We were so thrilled about the tickets and even though I got out of class a lot later than we'd planned for, there was just enough time to change out of school uniform into something a bit more gala.

Me, in my dream, calling my sister up and asking her to get the tickets which I've pressed between the pages of a book that I've been reading.

Meet me there, I say to my sister.

But when we get to the theater, it's to discover that we have the wrong book. It's too late to go back and pick up the tickets, because it's 30 minutes before starting time. It's too late to take the bus home because no bus will take us home and back again in 30 minutes...

It was a dream, but I can still see the tickets very clearly, they were red and blue and looked pretty much like the Philippine flag. What the concert was about? I don't remember.

Some dreams I remember, some dreams I forget. I mostly dream in color, and most of my dreams seem very real, hence a theory I developed long ago that the person in my dream must also dream about me...

Not so long ago, I remember waking up and keeping my eyes tightly closed and trying to hold on to a dream that made me laugh and laugh again. It bugs me that I can't remember what the dream was all about, but it made me feel really happy :)

So, what have you dreamed lately?

Firing up the balloon... Posted by Hello


Finally! I worked out how that picture posting thing works. Not bad for a computer ignoramus. *Me here, with a big smile on my face*.

See my son on the picture? He wasn't exactly happy with me asking him to pose with his back to the hot air balloon.

So, how many people do you know who celebrate 25 years of marriage? I think it's an event worth commemorating. So, we all decided to pitch in to give my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law a trip in a hot air balloon.

Before he saw the balloon, Joel was excited about the prospect of seeing one up close. But once they started up the huge fan and starting blowing fire into that huge thing, he started getting homesick.

Here's a sample of what our conversation sounded like:

Joel Jan: I've seen it, Mom. Can we go home now?

Me: We can't go home yet, sweetheart. We have to wait until it launches. Don't you want to ride in a balloon too?

Joel Jan: Not today, Mom. I think I'm too small. Besides, I'm homesick.

Picture the other adults around us, laughing at his words. Well, I suppose if I was five and a half and confronted with that huge thing, I'd be homesick too.

Joel Jan: Are they going to leave the earth now?

Karin (his cousin): They're not leaving the earth, silly.

Me: They're going to Mars. And when they come back, they're going to bring us huge sacks of Mars bars.

Joel Jan: Can we go home now? I'm homesick.

So, that was sort of the theme for that evening. I'm homesick, Mom.

Listen to me...I'm homesick too....

Hot Air Balloon launch... Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mail Order Bride

That's the title of the poem that is posted on Babaylan speaks, written by
  • Rebecca Mabango-Mayor(a.k.a. Rebecca Saxton)

  • A very moving poem, with imagery that reminds us that not all Filipinas married to foreigners do so out of free will or out of selfish reasons. More often than not, it's the desire to help the ones back home that drives our girls to commit the ultimate sacrifice.

    What amazes me is that many people back home fail to see the sacrifice that a lot of women go through. They imagine that we who live and work abroad live a life of luxury. If they only knew the truth. And how demeaning it is for a woman to have to beg her husband for cents to send back home, which is why you will meet professionals who do what they would never do back home. They clean out latrines, and do heavy factory work, they do the dirty jobs that white people refuse to do because back home there is the family waiting and if they are women with pride, they do not want to spend all of their lives begging for every single cent from their white-skinned husbands.

    Happily, this is not always the case and there are lots of women who have bright and successful marriages. But I have seen my share of women who are treated like slaves because their men know why they made the loveless choice for a foreigner...

    Before I forget, here's the link to that poem.

    The title is,
  • Mail Order Bride
  • Monday, June 27, 2005

    Godsdienst Les en wat heeft dat te betekenen?

    Godsdienst les (Religion lessons).

    Jaco, our nephew, spent four months in the Philippines as part of his study. What his study involves was a bit unclear to me. Dutch subjects and courses have vague descriptions that tend to confuse me. Anyway, he is taking a course that has to do with Theology and after he graduates, he intends to look for a job as a Religion teacher in one of the Christian schools that abound in the Netherlands.

    Curious me asked Jaco what his intention was. Wat is je bedoeling als je Godsdienst les gaat geven? My Dutch was probably not clear enough and so I ended up asking the question in English anyway, while listening to the answers in Dutch.

    Perhaps you could say that the Reformed Church with its various branches constitutes the state church of Holland. Anywhere you go, you'll be sure to find one huge church building which is the meeting place of the Reformed church. There are catholics here too, but their churches are probably not so conspicuous as those of the Reformed church goers. Needless to say, small church communities like the one we go to, have to find a way to house themselves because we can't borrow a church that's intended for use by the Reformed Church.

    My first impression of the Reformed Church was that it was cold. Probably it has to do with the huge buildings, the walls that are unrelieved by any decorations, the high, stark ceilings and the fact that in the wintertime, the cold seems to penetrate through the stone walls and creep up your legs. Perhaps, it also has to do with me coming from a warm land, where we went to a church that had no walls, because it was in a constant state of renovation.

    Needless to say, the sunshine and the warm breezes that blew into the church seemed to soak into the skin of the members of our church, because after the church service, we spent probably another hour chatting and talking and usually ended up all going somewhere to have lunch together.

    Just imagine my shock when on my first visit to the Reformed church, the first welcome we got was a reprimanding look from an elderly lady, who seemed to be warning my husband against his attempts to interpret the service to me. Needless to say, I didn't get anything much from the service and couldn't wait to escape back home, seeing that said lady kept turning around and fixing her reproving eye on us.

    In the beginning, we would be greeted by my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law, but even that dwindled away since the congregation moves from church building to church building every Sunday and one can choose which preacher one desires to listen to. I found it rather odd and confusing, for it seemed to me that if we all belonged to the body of Christ, there should be no need for the divisions into communities I, II and III. It is still a puzzle that I have to solve.

    Back to Jaco and Godsdienst les. I wanted to know whether he had observed a change in the way the youth or the Dutch experience their faith. Jan's mother talks about the past, wherein I gain the impression that faith was more of a tradition than something that was tangible and real, it also saddened me that these good people still continued to wrestle with the assurance of salvation.

    Putting the question to Jaco, I found myself quite impressed by his answers and I believe that indeed the winds of change are blowing over the Christian youth in The Netherlands.

    As society grants more freedom of choice, the youth are learning to weigh their choices and the choice for God is becoming less and less a choice of tradition and more and more a choice of the heart.

    Willemieke did say something in this conversation that set me to thinking. That while we may not be all positive about strict christian upbringing, ( I for one, believe that it's also good for children to know what choices they face and then to help them make the choices in the light of God's word), it does help the youth in this society that they grow up in an environment where their friends are all christians and their schools are christian and where in a sense, they are immersed in a society that expounds and propagates the same values that their parents have. It does help because the youth in this Dutch society are faced with so much pressure to conform, it makes me wonder what we can to do to make our children resilient enough and strong enough to make a stand when they have no one else to rely on but God.


    This sounds a bit garbled I suppose, but I'm still trying to reason something out here and at the moment, my brain is wrestling with concepts that I am trying to come to terms with.

    Sunday, June 26, 2005


    So, today has been a day of surprises. The most recent being the discovery that James Stevens Arce, one of oww's members managed to track down publications that I'd almost forgotten were on the net. I suppose it's quite easy to google a person and find out what there is to discover about them. I have to smile because this is more or less what I've been doing these past days in my own search for interviewees.

    James wrote Soulsaver, an award winning novel which I should really look for. Who knows, I might be able to get an interview with him for TSR. Chie, heading out on interviewee hunt. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed because there is another writer whose work I really, really admire. If I can get her to agree to an interview that would be simply fantastic.

    Anyway, James put a link to two of the first shorts I'd ever written. Babai and the Fire Demon, which got quite a violent reaction from one of the literary madams in the writers group I attended when I was back home. She thought it was too western, obviously someone else thought not. The other one, Lakay, was my very first successful short story, and I am really proud of it, to this day. It was published on Philippine Panorama (which is nationally distributed), spread out on two issues because it was a really long story. I'm a bit lazy right now, but I'll post the link to those two sometime soon.

    Another nice surprise was to discover that there is a new author who wants to be interviewed by me. That should be interesting. From what I've gathered so far, this author is 17 years old and is publishing a collection of short stories in the scifi genre. Interesting. I have yet to find published work that is connected to this collection as clicking on the issues of Deep Magic where his stories have been published yields an error file on my computer. I might have to resort to asking him to send me copies of his stories so that I can read them. Geez, do you think interviewing is simply a matter of asking people where they were born and what made them write?

    I'm quite pleased though because I've gotten the go ahead to interview Bill Snodgrass of The Sword Review. I've read his work (managed to access almost of all that he's got published), and I am quite curious about his novel. If it's as good as the stories that he's had published so far, the novel will make quite a read.

    In church this morning, Ronald de Boer, one of the church elders, gave an excellent preaching that set me to thinking about my writing and about the things that I have been thinking about lately. Amazing to realize that the theme of life and death, darkness and light are also a constant in the Bible. Of course, I knew that, but sometimes it's a fact that you sometimes forget if you've lived with something all your life.

    After that we went to the beach, just the three of us. Jan, Joel Jan and myself. It was lovely at the beach and we had a little picnic with us.

    I'm thinking of my stories and all the things that have been happening in my life and inspite of the moments of struggle and disappointment, I find myself saying, God is good. God is good. Let us praise him as we should...

    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    Listening to the ramblings of an old man

    Like listening to the water faucet
    going drip, drip, drip
    in the middle of the night.

    Wrapped up in the warmth of your bed
    You fall asleep
    to the sound of that drip...

    before you realize it
    your life is just like that water faucet
    dripping away
    without your knowing
    how or why or when
    you became
    this rambling old man
    this rambling old woman
    whose words
    fall upon the ears of the young

    Comfortable in their youth
    they turn away
    from the sound of your voice.

    One day
    they'll wake up
    to find
    they've turned into you.

    rcloenen-ruiz, 2005

    **je moet durven om te leven zoals je leven wilt - you must dare in order to live as you wish to live. And as another writer once said: Seize the day!

    **Which is what I'm doing, in between chasing after chores, running after schedules, doing the wash, trying to overcome the ever growing pile of things to iron, I squeeze in time, building the foundations of the life I wish to live. 30 minutes a day, an hour a day, what does it long as I'm writing. Exercise that mental improves with use.

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    Joel's First Recital

    Yes, it's the recorder, and yes he was the best. Even if his eyes kept straying off the page, and his fingers sometimes slipped from the right note to another one that was a bit off key, he still was the best. I know one thing, for a kid who's five and half years old, who would rather be out playing in the sun than sweating for thirty minutes in a hot room, in front of a roomful of adults, he really did his absolute best and that makes him number one in my eyes.

    Funny to think that I should grow teary eyed over such a thing as a recorder recital. There they were, four children, ranging from five to seven years old. Of course, a seven year old is way beyond a five, but he should be.

    When they got to the last number, Eric (the boy next door), played his clarinet along with them. That boy can really play. He gives clarinet playing a different dimension. Beautiful's hard to put into words how it's possible for someone to put emotions into notes that are blown out of a tube, but he does it wonderfully. That is a gift too, because not all musicians can play expressively.

    Eric's playing transformed, the enthusiastic harmony of four young children into something magical. I found myself thinking, these four children are looking at what could be their future, and I had to stop for a while, because I felt a bit choked up and one doesn't cry at a recital, especially when it's a recorder recital. I wish my parents could have been there, I wish my family could have been there. They would have been clapping too and cheering our little boy, just as the others got their cheers from their own moms and dads, grandpas, grandmas and aunts..

    But my little boy, he'll be okay. He didn't really care about the applause. What mattered most to him was that he played the best that he could and he did it beautifully.

    it's warm in The Netherlands

    Temperatures have soared to 35 degrees. Don't ask me if that's farenheit or celsius, whatever the Americans use, we use the opposite. Last day of gymlessons and Joel Jan opts not to go. It's too warm to bike in the sun, too warm to go cavorting indoors. He's got Nynke with him in the backyard. I've filled up the inflatable swimming pool and they're doing everything with the water but swimming in it. Oh well, I suppose I'll just have to clean my windows again...they've decided that it's great fun to throw water on all the windows and looking at the weather, I can already guess that I'll have stripes when the water dries up.

    Oh well, they don't do it that's part of the fun, I suppose. I've signed up for the online writers workshop writing marathon. So, I'm going to try and get 1,000 words a day on my book and hopefully by the end of the month, I'll be almost at the end of it.

    I've gotten this version started right, I think. Instead of using Inhabitants of the Earth, I've opted for the version that I started a couple of years ago, the one with the black cat and the sorceress on the island. So, I'm curious what will come out of this. I realize that I actually already have finished three novellas! Can you believe that? Of course, they're all in rough draft form and still need super-rewriting.

    Perhaps, I'll save working on Inhabitants of the Earth for another time of year. I think that it's at the stage where I need to seriously rethink why it's worked out as it has so far. I'm now stranded partially through that novel with a hero who blinded himself and a cast of characters that include an unstable minded fanatic. No, no, I do not want to write a trilogy or any kind of logy...I just want to finish it because I can already see the ending, clear right in front of me...but I just am stuck on the way to the ending.

    Which is why I've decided to do Little Islands first. While it's not halfway as dramatic as Inhabitants of the earth, I have always liked Parisu and it's about time I told that story, I suppose. Especially seeing the connection between Parisu's tale and the tale of Ligaya...

    Ha, won't give away the story line, not yet...especially since I don't know which way it'll go. He, he.

    I'm reading Mary E. DeMuth's devotional book. It's really encouraging, like having a heart to heart with this mom whom I've never met in person. Funny how connected you can feel to a person who responds in kindness. Another connection...she likes Hannah Hurnard's, Hinds feet on High Places! I remember a time when I read and reread and marked and remarked the pages of that book...and I was much-afraid learning all the lessons that the shulamite went through. I still have those journals...awfully embarassing to read now, but back then, I was in total chaos.

    Joel Jan will be having his recorder recital this evening. It's at times like these that I really miss home. How proud Tatay and Nanay and the rest of the family would be...we'd probably be all going in convoy to the recital venue. No matter that it's just a group of kids playing children's pieces...

    Anyway, it'll be just me and Jan. No grandparents because his dutch grandparents aren't into doing things like these. Yesterday wasn't very nice for Joel. When he asked his grands if they'd come and watch him and they said no, well...for a moment there, my heart cracked a little. Sometimes, I can get so mad at them.

    I didn't blow my top. I simply stood up and said to Joel, "We're going home now."

    And we went.

    They probably still think we went home because it was getting late.

    In the meantime, I'm just rambling on and on, because it's too warm to really do any housework. I went up to the attic and it was like being in an oven. So, I'm not going up there until tonight.

    Once I figure out how to post pictures to this blog, I'll post some photographs of Joel Jan...maybe a short film from his recorder recital...for the family back home and anyone else who wants to view it.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    Inside the writing mind

    That's the title of my column. My interview with Marcie Lynn Tentchoff has been published on The Sword Review. I am now an official columnist. *me with a big smile*

    The next interview to come up should be the one with Valerie Mason John, whose novel, Borrowed Body, is now acclaimed as the UK's "color purple". I was really pleased to get this interview, because I met Valerie at the Amsterdam Literary Festival, and was able to attend her bookreading at The English Bookshop in Amsterdam.

    It looks really nice and official up there, and I'm looking forward to doing more of this. I also recently concluded an interview with Mary E. DeMuth, whose devotional book, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God, has recently been published. I'm really looking forward to writing the intro to this column, especially since her book just arrived in the mail today. Thanks Mary. I've put in a request at Harvest House Publishers for this book to be translated into Dutch, this is one of those wonderful gems that I would love to share with my friends who don't read English.

    Another poet and writer whose interview will be up there soon, is Sara Russell of Poetry Life and Times. I met Sara on the Aylad Writer's Group and since then, we've corresponded on and off via e-mail. I haven't met her in person yet, but if our plans to visit England this summer push through, I'll drop her a line and hope that we can meet. Sara is a poet who writes with so much passion. To this day, I find myself haunted by the images in her poem about a child in Bosnia, and that was how many years ago? Another thing that I appreciate about her is her wonderful sense of humor, witness her potato poems (they are hilarious, guaranteed to make the reader laugh). I should really be saving this blurb for my column, so I'll leave it at that. For those who want to read more good poetry visit Poetry Life and Times.

    I'm now off to finish work on my columns. I want to submit them on time so that I can go out and start my research for the next column.

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    between darkness and light

    One of the subjects that preoccupies my thoughts these days, is the struggle between darkness and light. As I progress in my writing, I've begun to develop an awareness of myself as being more than just another person who writes. I admit that I still hate the idea of using story as a means of preaching what I believe. Rather than preaching, I think that story is meant to be a way of revealing the ongoing struggle between darkness and light. In a sense, this struggle is something very real and personal to me.

    Perhaps the stories that mean the most to us as writers, are those which we've lived with for a long time, they're the stories that have haunted us and visited us in our dreams, they're the ones that don't let us go. These are the stories that we want to tell and telling them requires more than merely putting words onto a page. In the end, I think that the stories that get through to people are those which we've invested our lives in.

    In my journey as a writer, I can see how my stories change, in many ways reflecting my own personal struggles as a person. At the blockbuster writing workshop, Sarah Harrison said something that I think is very true. Many people mistake the saying, "write what you know", to mean writing about things familiar. To paraphrase what Sarah said, "write what you know" means writing about the inner life that you know. When we write stories, what really matters and what makes people really care about our stories are the emotions, the struggles, the inner battle that we translate into words.

    It's this inner battle that continues to fascinate me, this struggle between light and darkness that I see so clearly in my own life as a writer. The temptation to write as the world wishes me to write is very strong. It's so easy to adapt pagan symbols, to justify writing a story because it's there to be written. I find myself coming to a point where I am deeply convicted that unless what I write glorifies God, it's not worth writing.

    So, here I am at 2.20 in the morning, typing in my blog, and still thinking of the struggle between darkness and light. I recognize that words are a gift, that I cannot live without.

    It is a gift, that's true. Not born of myself, not born of this world, but born of God.


    Sunday, June 19, 2005

    Father's Day

    A couple of years ago, someone asked me to write a short biography about my father's life. In this piece, I wrote about my father's accomplishments, about his work as a missionary doctor, and about his calling. Looking back, I realize that a short essay is never enough to encompass the breadth of a man's life.

    The essence of a man is more than a list of accomplishments and employments, it is more than words can encompass. In the end, all these lists fade and fall away.

    What remains is the memory of sunsets shared together, days in the park, picnics along the roadside, long talks and walks when we were growing up. Time changes us and our memories, until we reach the place where we look at our parents and realize that the distance between us is not so great as we once imagined.

    For those of us who are so blessed, we find ourselves thankful to discover that all along, our parents have been the best friends we've ever had.

    Happy Father's Day.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Relevant Blog

    I found this blog through a post made by John Cooke on The Sword Review. The entries are refreshing and inspirational. It's also interesting to note that this writer lives in France, not so very far away from The Netherlands. Relevant Blog another inspiring find on the internet.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Things I have to stop and think about...

    The Internet is an amazing medium. Through it, I found Flips (the online community for Filipino Writers) and through Flips, I met Rebecca. She wrote something about writers becoming moms and moms becoming writers and children teaching moms while moms teach their children which made me stop and think about all the wonderful things that I've shared with my son. I keep an intermittent journal and I have the tendency to skip days and weeks. When something memorable comes along, I'll keep that in a pocket of my brain and write it down because I want him to read about it later on and remember.

    One of the things that I've noticed is transference of values by example. I suppose our children pick up things from us and we pick up things from them so that without our realizing it, our loves, our prejudices, the way we think, the way we live is mirrored upon each others lives ... we absorb and learn from them, just as they absorb and learn from us. It's something like learning by osmosis.

    Just the other day, Joel surprised me when I asked him to practice his flute on his own. He went, "Hay naku talaga." And I had to laugh, because I do that too.

    He has an exceptionally good vocabulary and understand English and Dutch and talking with him is so refreshing. He looks at life in a very straightforward way and that encourages me and has that wonderful curiousity, the desire to discover everything that's to be discovered. I find myself diving back and reaching inside to find the child in me, the one who wants to look beyond what seems to be to what really is.

    These are the things that I want to share with him. I want to give him that vision of seeing beyond flesh and bone to what's beyond. To look beyond the structure of things towards the essence of what makes life what it is and what makes people tick.
    I hope that someday, when he grows up, he'll find out that what really matters are those things that the eyes can't see and that money can't buy.

    In my journal, I've written an account about a game that we play every now and then. It's called looking behind what's invisible. I wrote this in my journal as an exercise not only to capture the moment, but also to encourage myself to keep on writing, even when it seemed that all of my creativity was just going into bringing up my son.

    Behind all things invisible….
    rcloenen-ruiz for Joel Jan

    “You have to look for it…” said the little boy with an expectant smile. “You have to look for it behind everything that is invisible.”

    “Where?” Asks the little boy’s mother. She smiles at the little boy and her face is all tenderness.

    “There.” Says the little boy. His eyes sparkle and the dimples in his cheeks deepen as he tries to submerge his laughter in mock seriousness.

    “It is hidden there and everywhere, behind things that are invisible.” His voice rises and trills with laughter.

    His mother laughs. They have played this game before. She raises her hands in the air, laying them with the palms flattened against an invisible wall or is it a series of invisible paintings hanging on an invisible wall? With a flip, she turns the invisible painting over and her face takes on a comic disappointment as she starts to flip one invisible painting after another, until her hands travel down the wall to the exact level where the little boy wants her hands to be, so that when she turns over the last invisible piece, she sees the train that he has hidden in plain view.

    “There it is!” She claps her hands together.

    The little boy's grandfather has stopped listening to the conversation in the living room. His eyes are on his grandson and he smiles as the little boy crows out in laughter and races to where the train lies under the table.

    “Again.” The little boy commands. His cheeks glow like apples and his lips are red from excitement. He clutches the train in his hands that have grown sturdy and strong.

    His happiness permeates the air like perfume, and all eyes turn to gaze at him.

    The old man trembles in his chair with emotions that he cannot put into words and his wife’s lips take on an indulgent curve as she looks at the little boy.

    “Come and sit down.” The old woman says. “Come, sit down and eat your cake.”

    The little boy’s father looks at him with loving eyes and stretches out his arms.

    “Come.” He says. “Come sit on my lap.”

    The little boy’s gaze travels from one face to the other. He smiles and rocks on his heels. He sticks his finger to his forehead.

    “Let me think…” says the little boy.

    Then his laughter wins as his eyes meet his mother’s eyes.

    “Close your eyes.” He says.

    And they all laugh because they know that he will choose this game above cake and cookies.

    “Give me a hug and a kiss.” Says his mother. “Give me a hug and a kiss, and I will close my eyes.”


    Someday, I will grow truly old. This flesh will deteriorate and time will probably steal from me the freshness and the vibrancy of these moments. When that happens to me, when these words become nothing more than a jumble of letters whose meanings I can no longer analyze, I hope that these words will still remain as a written record for my son.

    Monday, June 06, 2005

    What I never knew...

    When I look back, I realize how little I know about my grandparents. Lola Rosing died when I was still a child and my last memory of her is of a body shrouded in white. Her face, serene in sleep, is touched by the light that streams in through the open window of the bedroom that she and my grandfather shared for the entirety of their married life.

    How can I put on a page, sound and sensation, touch and scents, the echo of her voice calling my name through the years?

    My memories of her are intertwined with the sound of my mother's voice reminding me, remembering for me, while we leaf through the pages of photographs from long ago.

    Always, it is grandmother on my grandfather's arm. Dressed to the nines, in silk and satin. My father says that I've inherited my grandmother's body. Maybe that's true. My mother says that I inherited her gregariousness. Perhaps I have, in part.

    What I would give for the chance to be there, hiding behind the shadows, watching my grandparents dance to the sound of music from long ago.

    What did they dance to? Did my grandfather's eyes sparkle with love and pride when he looked at my grandmother? Did he whisper sweet nothings in her ear while they danced and posed for the photographs?

    "Your grandfather was engaged to someone else when he met her," my mother said. "She was wearing a green dress and driving her own car. Your grandfather was a doctor at Dr. Graham's hospital. He fell in love with her and that was the end of his engagement. He ended up marrying your grandmother."

    But they were happy, and I am so glad that my grandfather had the courage to do this. Making the choice for love requires strength. Too many times, we allow protocol to dictate our choices and we end up living with regrets that we cannot speak about because in the end, we all choose our own paths.

    Listening to stories, my memory is refreshed. I can imagine my grandmother filling the house with the sound of her voice. I can see how her strength of will, her courage, and her laughter, could be enriching, invigorating, and perhaps at times irritating to my grandfather. Did they quarrel? Did they disagree? Did my grandmother's penchant for extravagance drive my grandfather to lose himself in his work?

    My mother says, "your grandmother was an excellent businesswoman. She had what we call, good PR. She could charm anyone and everyone and one time, when their bus was held up, she cowed the hold-uppers into submission with her demands to be taken to see the governor."

    I can see her, larger than life, frightening these men with the sheer force of her presence.

    And yet, my own remembrance brings to me the smooth touch of silk under my cheek, the scent of Ylang-ylang flowers, and the feel of my grandmother's arms as she presses me close to her in a welcoming embrace. Her voice has a lilt in it, a caressing tone that belongs to those who are visayan born.

    My memories of her belong in a lush garden where she shows us her favorite orchids, dancing ladies, bandas, exotic blooms for which we have no eyes. Instead, we are drawn to the dwarves who populate the green, and we wait impatiently while she introduces us to them. In that moment, they cease to be painted stone. They become Sleepy and Dopey and all the other names that I have already forgotten.

    This is my grandmother, Rosalina Ramirez Castro. She died when I was a child. All I have are photographs to remind me that she crossed the ocean too, that she traversed the rugged mountain roads to visit us at the edge of our world.

    In my thoughts, I am back beside her bedside. I watch as they pick her up and lay her down. I do not shed my tears, but look around in wonder at all the faces filled with grief and I try to feel a loss that I do not yet understand.

    Only now, when I am trying to remember, do I understand the wailing beside my grandmother's grave, and the tears that I see pouring down my mother's cheeks. Only now, do I grieve for what I never knew.

    For we do not mourn for those who have gone before us. We mourn for our own loss and grieve for the generations who follow, for our children who will never know what we have known.

    Raindancer 68

    Sunday, June 05, 2005

    writing news...

    Well, I suppose I should also write an update regarding my writing life. My blog has been still for more than a week, due to me having a severe case of hay fever and some other allergy that still has to be determined. Needless to say, this sort of shorted out my brain for sometime.

    I've gotten a spray from the doctor and feel a bit better now.

    Aside from a couple of rejections, which I expected, I don't really have much news. My short story, Masinag's Magic placed third for the May challenge at the fantasy-writers forum and I've volunteered to write a series of interview columns for The Sword Review.

    That said. Read on...

    What compels me to keep on writing...

    Looking at those who come after us, I realize more than ever the need to pass on these memories. To make them as whole and as intact as possible so that those who follow will see not the rose colored or sepia colored prints, but the truth of where we came from, our dreams, who we were, what we were and all the longings that brought us to where we now are.

    The gap between the past and the present seems to grow wider with the years and we forget that it is in opening ourselves to the younger, in showing to them our true face that we can bridge the gap that is complicated by culture, society and the times in which we live.

    Recently, I attended a workshop on raising children in a multicultural environment. As I listened to the conversations between different women from all walks of life and from different levels of society, several truths came clear to me.

    My son, at seventeen years old, will be live and move in a much different world than the one in which I lived and moved when I was seventeen. He will have more choices than the choices that I had to make when I was seventeen. By the time he is eighteen, he must be able to make the decisions that I only learned to make when I got married. Already, at the age of five, he is an independent person with a mind of his own.

    Instead of spanking my son, I reason with him. I have learned to talk with him and listen to what he has to say. I have learned to show him that his words and his being are more important to me than anything in the world and in turn, I am blessed because I see him growing up as a strong and confident individual.

    Still, there are so many things that I want to give to him. Because he is my son, I think that someday he might look back just like I look back. In my mind, I see him returning to the places of his childhood. He will wonder just like me, and wondering, he will search and find that his roots go far deeper than the soil of this earth that the Dutch have reclaimed from the sea.

    "You are my son," I say to him. "True, you are a Dutchman, but always remember that you are also Filipino, like me."

    I don't want him to forget that there is more to our country, there is more to us than the color of our skins, or our tendency to shed tears easily. He may forget it, that is true, but someday there will always be someone who will seek and in seeking, it is my hope that they will find this record of memories.