Rainy days and Mondays

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Alice Bustos-Orosa

Alice Bustos-Orosa

We all woke up to dreary, stor-my skies on Monday morning. As it turned out, the winds and rain brought on by Typhoon Ruby had once again shaken the lives of many people across the country.

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Just when we thought super typhoons would take at least another decade to recur, how wrong we all were to think otherwise. And with this thought, it leaves us all feeling quite vulnerable and utterly helpless. As my colleagues and I have learned in recent trips to Tacloban, resilience and self-reliance are what we all must muster in these trying times. But most of all, as Filipinos know best, prayer is what one can turn to under the most trying ordeal.

It’s interesting though, how in moments of crises we get to catch a glimpse of character in leaders and ordinary people. Should our politicians be sincere in their vow of public service, it is certainly in times of crises that their selfless intentions are put to the test. Ironically however, it seems that during catastrophes, a few politicos try to get the most media mileage possible. If their intentions are good and well meaning at all, it’s odd how public perception seems unappreciative or indifferent at best. Indeed, it has become more and more difficult to win public affection so easily over the years, with social media quite scathing oftentimes.

Perhaps too, the Filipino is quite a fickle and hard-to-please populace. How someone who might have easily been a popular and well-loved flavor soon turns sour to the palate years later is totally bizarre, really! Maybe so, that is the price one pays for fame, celebrity or power. And so, I guess in times of calamities or not, the folly of self-indulgence and a bloated sense of self-importance is one that should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, it is one lesson too often forgotten by a few.

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Stormy Monday also brought many families together for an unplanned day-off. As schools called off classes for the day and work shut down for the day, we drove off together to the chapel in the middle of the Greenhills Shopping Center for noontime Mass.

Before Mass was to begin, it was an honestly curious sight to see so many senior couples seated in pews praying together. My husband and I expressed that the parish must be a comforting place where these seniors had long spent their younger years. Interspersed among the church crowd were also a few prominent social and political figures from decades back. Although now in their seventies and eighties, they still stood out well coiffed and distinguished.

In the midst of the elderly crowd, I could not help but muse about the certainty of growing old. Living with an elderly mother has made me all the more aware of the anxieties that health issues and a change in income stream the senior years beget. And yet, in my mom, I am lucky to see how old age can still be a time of simple pleasures and self-fulfillment. With decades spent working towards a highly successful career and earning her keep in the past, my mom now relishes the fruit of her hard work and the recognition bestowed on her by her peers. Even better, she manages to still look elegant even over simple lunch with her grandkids and to regale us all with stories of travel and friendships. I can only pray that when I turn her age, I would be as blessed and graceful as she is.

And in a small chapel under stormy skies, I realized most that faith, hope, sincerity and gratefulness are something we all must hold closest in our lives.

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1 Comment

  1. Reading your article makes me yearn for the country of my birth when, I think, it projected a feeling and atmosphere of serenity amidst adversities. But more importantly, you described for me a very profound yet simple way on how to deal with life with all its aches and pains. In addition to the perennial typhoon that the country faces, there is the phase that we all go through, namely aging. You stitch them together and you weave spirituality into them. Going to mass and prayer have proven to be the Filipino antidote to any tragedy or just the normal and mundane life’s challenges. The feeling I derived from this article is one of optimism. Those reading this article are reminded that they can always fall back on spirituality and family when all else fails. But there is also this grim reality that you call my attention to. In addition to natural disasters and personal devastation that goes with it, we have to contend with some predators who do not waste any crisis for self-aggrandizement and abuse victims even further. The emotional trauma is intensified. Apathy and indifference are the twin emotions that have grown enormously in all Filipino psyches. Especially so when government leaders and politicians jump into the mix. What we all know is that there is a hell to pay when a politician provides aid and help to the needy. He or she has to be repaid and whatever money he or she spent is an investment that has to have double return. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is an equal opportunity one, It besets both genders. But as you pointed out our people have gotten used to them and this behavior from political leaders is as natural as traffic in Manila and typhoons in the Country. Consequently, cynicism has become our stance to life and people’s motives. The personal and cultural toll in terms of emotional health is high. But, I am hopeful because I am reading from this paper and its writers a flicker of optimism being highlighted and accentuated.