Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remembering.......

Tomorrow, June 18, 2017 is Father's Day. A recent near fire incident this morning at our neighboring Shell gasoline station made me recall a courageous act done by my father (God rest his soul) many many years ago. I was in my early twenties then and my younger brothers Wilson and Ollie were in their teens. My mother had passed away some two years ago, leaving my father alone and us her children to assist in the meager family business in Cotabato City. Our two-pump gasoline station com sari-sari store (convenient store) was located at the corner of Mabini and Villaeron Streets fronting the Rio Grande River. It is called "Teksing" now a days. Our business catered mostly to Muslims: those pump boats plying the delta, the fishermen and people from the near-by river banks. The store opened early in morning and closed around six in the evening. But the lorry truck that filled our gasoline pumps would come in the evening, most of the time late at night.
One particular day though, it came earlier around 6:30 or 7 in the evening. It was already dusk and the store was about to close, but we stayed on to wait for the lorry to fill in our gasoline supply. As we prepared for it, my two younger brothers as tasked, went up to the truck, opened the lid to measure the content of the fuel. I sat as cashier. The store was half closed and I could not see from the inside. Two sale girls were also with me, while my father went out to oversee the fueling. Suddenly there was some kind of a loud sound (busuk!), then I saw my father running hastily inside the store. He quickly took the big fire extinguisher on the center post and ran outside to quell some fire outside. After sometime, he came back with an empty can and a screaming fire truck soon arrived. It did not take long for the firemen to investigate the incident. They talked to my father and my brothers. Since my brothers were on top of the lorry truck, they saw everything...... While they were preparing for the loading of the fuel, some Muslim kids at the far end of the vicinity were playing talang (lucky nine perhaps). Since it was getting dark, one of the kids lighted a small candle. In an instant the fueling hose sucked up the flame. The candle was extinguished and the flame was perilously transferred to the hose. When my brothers saw the hose on fire, they quickly jumped down from the lorry and ran towards the river, to save themselves in case things got worst. Not so far away though, they saw my father coming out from the store carrying the big fire extinguisher by himself and single-handedly hosed down the flame. Thank God, the fire was contained. Thank God! He saved us from great harm that evening. That same night, the firemen and policemen found the candle and playing cards at the far end of the vicinity accordingly. My father had to do some reporting to the police station the next day though.
But to my brothers, my father confided. That when he saw the fire and saw my brothers running safely away, in a brief moment he was tempted to let the fire burn and collect the insurance. But yet he thought about the many other lives getting loss, and so he hurriedly went in to take the fire extinguisher and responsibly braved the peril himself.
My father Francisco Ledesma was not religious, but for this single heroic act of courageousness, I believe the all knowing God has absolved him. I believe my father is now in heaven with our Almighty God who is all good, kind and merciful. It is just so timely that I am able to think about this single incident and remember Papa and his courageous deed just before Father's Day tomorrow. I love you, Pa! Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Random Things

I went to Manila last May 22, 2017 to repaint my second home. In fact to repaint the room of Roy and Emil to be exact. To date, I have been repainting one room per visit and here are the results:
Orange for Lucas' and mine room. Hehe.
Soothing green for the library/study.
Blue for the boys room

Aside from overseeing the work at home, I spent time and enjoyed walking at the park with Martha, the house-helps and Kiba (Martha's dog).
It was for walking of the dog primarily. Hahaha
Tetet and Kiba
Karen and Runa helping Martha walk the crazy dog. 

In Manila, I also met up with my siblings (sorry no pictures here) and ate out with Martha several times. One high light dinner with my daughter was a buffet at Shangrila Fort. We ate from 8 in the evening up to 10:30 closing time. I carefully chose what I like best and since most of my children were allergic to shellfish and we didn't cook them at home, so my first choice was to eat a plateful of the crustaceans first. My favorites were of course the lobsters and shrimps. The crabs and crayfish were kind of disappointing, but I used a lot of lemons for flavorful dipping. I went for second and third rounds. Hahaha. Another favorite was the peking duck. I asked for more slices of duck meat and went for another helping. Their siopao was also good. I ate few slices of yellow fin tuna, salmon and mackerel. However at the end, I opted to skip the cakes and pastries, instead I had lemon sorbet for my dessert and topped it with plentiful of big fresh strawberries. Lemon sorbet and fresh strawberries were perfect blend. It was such a wonderful dinner. I could not however eat that much and so heavily everyday. This was just a special night I randomly planned with my daughter Martha. What a lovely evening!
My first plateful! Hehehe
With Martha after a sumptuous dinner. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Beautiful May

The month of May is hot and humid here in the Philippines, more so here in Cotabato, but we love the month of May for many things:
1. It is vacation time. Parents sigh with relief and children play without care. The sophisticated goes abroad, but there are more fun with beach and sun and sand here in our islands.
2. May is the month of our Blessed Mother, hence there are also plenty of fiestas in her honor. My parish the Queen of Peace Church will have its festivities on the last Sunday of May. There are on-going catechism classes for neighboring kids. First Communion and Confirmation will be held during the fiesta mass. There will be the customary brunch fare also for the community after the mass.
3. Tomorrow May 13 is the 100 year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. I plan to attend the early morning mass and a celebratory breakfast afterwards. I will be sharing 2 rolls of Red Ribbon cakes. There will be pancit, bread and coffee, etal, as per voluntary contribution of some members. 
4. There are weddings. My husband Lucas will act as one of the primary sponsors during the wedding of the son of our employee Nestor this coming May 18.
5. Birthday celebrations too - I just attended the 91st birthday celebration of Cherry Lao this May 10th. My daughter-in-law Angel also celebrated her 38th birthday that same day in Cebu. Today is the birthday of my uncle Fernando Go in Manila. Good health, long life and a happy disposition are my best wishes for him. The most popular May birthday celebrant though is our parish grand dame Lily Uy (everybody calls her Mother Lily). She is well known for her big and varied and generous gala spread. Her birthday theme this year is Hawaiian. Lily has hired a party coordinator to teach Hawaiian dance numbers to the MMLC for her birthday programme. She also offered to pay for their costumes too. Everybody is now in a competition to be the best hawaiian dancer I suppose. I will not be joining this party though for I plan to go to Manila to continue with repainting my house before the on set of the rainy season this June. I am happy to get out of the way. I pray for the party to be a big success, only the best for this generous and kindhearted lady who is the pillar of the ladies organization of our parish. And here I also have another invitation from Juliet Tsang for the birthday celebration of her father in Davao on May 30, but which I will not be attending since I may still be in Manila. Wishing all the birthday celebrants the best of everything.
6. And by the way, this coming May 19, my daughter Marion is going to Paris for a ph.d conference from New Zealand. It is going to be a long tiring trip but may our Lady keep her safe always. I pray for her to have a safe, happy and successful journey most specially because she is doing this on this beautiful month of May which synonymously belongs to our lovely Lady.
Here's wishing everybody a happy and beautiful month of May, with blessings from the Lord.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Social Events....

My simple retiree's life looks forward to enjoying social events such as church activities and other happy celebratory occasions:

1.Last April 28, 2017, my sister-in-law Conchita Tan celebrated her 80th birthday. The gala celebration had her children coming home to Cotabato to grace the important milestone. They were George and Maria coming from Boston, Grace from Atlanta, Giselle from Singapore and Eugene and Aimee with three young kids from Davao. From the extended family, the children of Luna and Tina (Tan in-laws) also came to grace the occasion. They were Apollo and Leizle with two boys from Tacloban, Dominic and Carol and children from Davao. One of Conchita's siblings, Jose Atienza came over from Manila, her brother-in-law Chua Yu Beng and his wife from Kidapawan and his children all from Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Manila were present too.

The arrival of kin had the Tan households and hardware store becoming busy centers for family greetings and gatherings. My children did not come though. They were all busy with their work and other activities. Infact Tom was heading his high school batch reunion in Cebu, Martha was swimming and running her first aquathlon at Ateneo de Manila, Emil busy in Cebu, and of course Roy at work in Seattle and Marion in New Zealand.

I participated as lay reader in the birthday con-celebrated mass presided by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo. I also joined the choral group that rendered two songs for the celebrant. Food were aplenty: Roasted (whole cow) beef, lechons, fresh (whole fish) tuna sashimi, sushi bar, liquor bar, buffet stations and dessert corners, not to mention the aperitifs that were laid on each table before hand. Sadly though, both the birthday mass and the birthday party were not very well attended and many fondues of food were shelved away by unscrupulous people. Other than that, the trivia game was interesting and the celebrant and her family and the party attendees, all had a good time.

2. The Sunday of April 30, 2017,  I was formally inducted together with Garland Lu and Norma Lim as lay-reader (late) inductees for the year 2017. After the mass, during the Lecom meeting, I conducted a brief English pronunciation sharing to my fellow readers. I was glad they were all interested. In general, they were happy to get updated and learned or rekindled something from their old school. During the meeting, I did not like to appear as though I was a better reader. Many of them were community achievers like a lawyer/school principal, nurse, teacher, business women, etc. The fact that I personally and brazenly volunteered to give this talk because I did think I had something to share to the ministry. I thank them for their kind attention and also for giving me this opportunity to fulfill my promise to share my humble little knowledge.

3. In the afternoon, my husband Lucas and I went to visit James and Siolan Yap. James was just recently released from the hospital for prostate problem. He had not fully recovered from his medical condition yet, and he was physically ill at ease with his movements while lying down, but he was stronger than the time we visited him at the hospital. That afternoon he was happily more audible and talkative. That for us was a good sign. We hoped he gets better soon.

4. In the evening of the same day, Lucas and I attended the birthday party of Violeta Tarangco at Connie's restaurant. Violy is  a window. She is active at church, a daily mass goer. Her party was composed of small group, mostly church members. We had karaoke singing and food was more than sufficient enough for everybody. I was kind of hungry and  had second rounds. The guests had fun chorusing and dancing to lively singers. Lucas did a couple of songs. Mostly everybody in the party was sincerely cajoling and enjoying the night away. It was indeed a happy and gay celebration!

And to think many people at times, ask me. " What do you do these days?"
The answer is "I am enjoying my retirement." Hehehe. Truly I tell you, that is not a lie!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

More Asik Asik Pictures

My daughter Martha came home for the holy week. Aside from religious observance of church activities, the high light of her stay was going to Asik Asik Falls at Dado, Alamada, North Cotabato. It was a long ride to Dado and the trek was not an easy one. Thanks to Carlo Songcayauon a professional rescuer friend for coming with us at my request. He made the trip confidently physically easy for us. Here are more pictures from the excursion:
The 600 plus steps trek down to the falls
View from the stairs
Female Gandaff leading the way down. Hahaha.
Hahaha!
Crossing the water through the fallen down tree bridge.
Photo op at one of the fallen down balete trees.
Asik Asik Falls was discovered after a big storm. The fallen down balete trees uncovered  the beautiful curtain falls.
At the falls at last.
Martha at the falls.
Lucas at Asik Asik
Martha wading the ice cold water.
Going to the walls..
Taking a direct ice cold shower at the falls.
The curtain falls
Awesome God's work!
Clear and clean water.
More crowds coming in. After lunch we decided to head back for the sky was becoming overcast.
Half way scenery with the overcast sky. Beautiful isn't it!
After the picnic lunch at the falls, we decided to head back as the sky was getting cloudy. On our way up, there were even more people going down. I was glad we came to the falls earlier during the day. In the afternoon the falls would be teeming with people and the place getting dirtied by undisciplined picnickers which were sadly and sickeningly aplenty. People should know how to keep this place and their environment clean!!!

March and April 2017 Activities

I have had a variety of activities these two months:

1. Visitors from Canada - The Tan family's Canadian contingents composed of Luson, Yvette, Sharleen, Jessica and Mexia came to Cotabato on March 7, 2017. They stayed at my abode in Cotabato for a duration of 10 days. During the day, they mostly go out with Yvette relatives, the Go's. At home, my maids prepared meals for them and sometimes I did cooked extra dishes too. The Canadians prefer to eat healthy food like fruits and fish. I observed they hardly take dairy, sweets, chicken and vegetable salad. They heated up their viands at the microwave oven before eating because they had weak stomachs. Despite that, Sharleen still had bouts of loose bowel movements. It happened every time she came to Cotabato. She got well pretty fast enough though, having Luson, her father being a doctor I supposed. A good thing the teenager Mexia was fine and good all through out.
The Tan brothers Luson, Lucio, Lucas at Lucio 's place for a family dinner party.
With Mexia at Sultan Kudarat Park, Cotabato City.

2. Lenten Retreat in Digos, Davao - The Lecom Ministry of Queen of Peace Church of Cotabato City went for a Lenten retreat at the Benedictine Monastery, Digos, Davao. We stayed at Our Lady of Peace Retreat House ran by the Benedictine nuns.
The Lecom ladies in green. Spot me with the yellow hat and sunglasses. Hehe.
With my roommate and kumadre Lily Tan from Davao City.

3. 17 days in Manila:
    a. For Lucas check up with his Neurologist Dr. Lokin at Cardinal Santos Hospital.
    b. Meeting with my lawyers Attys Vic and Marlon Marquezes for legal documents concerning my property in Manila.
    c. Repainting of my room and the study.


    d. Sundays walk with Martha and her dog Kiba at the park.


    e. Yoga and dinner with sister Helen, sister-in-law Diane and her siblings at the Chua's residences. (no pictures)

4. Back home to Cotabato for the Holy Week:
    a. Asik Asik trip with Lucas and Martha on Holy Thursday morning.


    b. Holy Thursday - Observing 'Washing of the Feet Ritual' at church at 6 in the evening.
    c. Good Friday - Stations of the Cross at 6 in the morning and Communion Service at 3 in the afternoon.
    d. Holy Saturday - Easter Vigil
    e. Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Unfortunately Illness

My niece Janah Ledesma Ching, 39, the eldest daughter of my brother William Ledesma and Jean (nee) Te died from an unfortunate illness. She was diagnosed of breast cancer malignancy on its 4th stage on January 9, 2017 and very soon succumbed to her death on February 13, 2017. ( In a matter of just one month time.) It was so fast and so soon, that everybody was shocked and stunned. How could this have happened........

Janah was an interior designer, also a contractor for finishing new,  and refurbishing and /or renovating old residential homes. I had for several times employed her services and/or asked for her help regarding my second home in Manila.When she got married seven years ago, aside from acquiring big contractual jobs, she became more preoccupied with rearing her own children and attending to her own family. As she became more busy, our common interactions as aunt and niece, client and contract provider became less frequent. We still  met occasionally during family events. I attended all her children's first birthday parties, but I would mostly hear or know of her latest whereabouts from her father and mother who lived just a stone throw away from my second home in Manila.

Last year though 2016 we began to reconnect again. I was then looking for a good modiste with reasonable rate to sew my gown for a wedding event, Janah helpfully recommended a friend of her who lived nearby. I was quite pleased with her recommendation. Now when I went to Manila early this January of 2017, I once again tapped her assistance in the repair of my bathrooms and kitchen. You know, my niece personally knew me as a hard to please client and tight fisted spender but she was always more than willing to aid me in getting worthy and dependable results. This very recently concerned her helping me in my home plumbing problems. She provided me the best handy man ever and even this worker's contract wage was not too costly either.

So on the first week of January 2017, when I was in Manila, Janah came over to my house. She looked into the plumbing problems and assured me, it needed only minor works. Thanks to her, it eased out most of my worries. Then she began to talk about this lump in her breast. She confided that she felt this lump during her last pregnancy but she thought it would go away after her delivery and also after breast feeding. But now that her baby was two years old yet the lump had not gone away.

She told me about seeing a doctor earlier this January 2017, who took a sample breast tissue by way of puncturing her breast with some kind of an instrument for biopsy. The result of the biopsy had not yet been released as of our meeting, and she seemed quite impatient to know the result. I kind of gave her some positive assurances: 1. She was less likely to be at risked since she breast fed all her children. 2. There had not been any cancer history on both her father (my brother) nor mother side.(except for my sister Helen who is now on remission for more than 15 years. But I later realized I was wrong because her cousin and an uncle on the mother side died from liver cancer.) 3. I narrated to her my own experience of discovering a breast cyst a month after weaning my first born from breast feeding. That I went for cyst removal operation which spurted milk out upon incision. It was a milk cyst after all. But Siko (4th auntie), She said, hers was not of liquid material but rather a mass tissue. Her lump was also of uneven shaped which was not a good sign. I guessed Janah was expecting the worst prognosis from her biopsy.

On January 9, she told me over the phone, " Bad news. The biopsy turns out to be malignant."

Next succeeding days, she was getting in and out of medical centers. She consulted doctors for second opinions and further tests. It went from bad to worst. It was not only malignant but it had metastasized to the liver. The malignancy had spread. It was on the fourth stage and mastectomy was not a recommendation anymore. She juggled decisions as to which doctors and what treatments to do, even opting to go to USA for some treatment middle of February. I was not an expert on sickness and cures. My advise was "Pray for a good doctor. Get treated and remember money should be the least of your worries." Which in response, she readily agreed with me.

My plumbing repairs were all done, and I got to come back home to Cotabato City. I included Janah in my prayers every night. Then heart breaking news came that she was hospitalized due to malfunction of liver. I added more prayers, asking all my children to pray the rosary for her. I offered a month long healing masses for my niece at the cathedral. I was hopeful for divine intervention, so many people were praying for her everyday. But her condition worsen. My brother was texting me her deteriorating condition. My children and I were tearfully praying for miracle. We were praying for God to be merciful. It took her only 4 to 5 days in the hospital, and she was gone. It was too fast and too soon. I could not believed it.

For the life of me, I do not understand what went wrong. Should there be a lesson to learn from this? I was hurting that God did not listen to all our prayers. Has He abandoned the Ledesma, my maiden family, specially my brother Jun and his wife Jean? Has He forsaken Janah's husband and her 3 young children, to allow Janah to die at such young age? Her youngest is just but two years old. Why is God so hard upon us to let this thing happen. But who am I to question my Lord. I have but only to keep on praying for his mercy. Please don't let unfortunate illness and events happen anymore O God. Have mercy on us O Lord, have mercy.