Yes Joshua, There Is A Santa Claus

We were at the mall and he was asking me to buy him something. I told him I will check if the budget will allow it. He then said it does not matter, he will just ask Santa to give it to him this Christmas.

I lightly chuckled and told him Santa does not exist, that he was a character made popular by people to so that they would have a cute symbolism for consumerism. My son stomped his foot and told me that Santa did exist and that he would get him the toy he wanted for Christmas. I was just about to issue a retort when Aaron reminded me that I was arguing with a preschooler and that he was probably too young for my lessons on reality. I told Aaron if they are old enough to ask or make assumptions, then they are old enough to know.

Turns out my tyke did not just get my eyes, he also got my stubbornness. In no uncertain terms he told me that whatever words I use, he still chooses to believe in Santa. I was fuming on the ride back home. My dislike for Santa comes from my belief in the principle of giving credit where credit is due. It just did not seem fair to me that a fictional figure gets all the gratitude when in fact it was the parents’ hard-earned money that bought the gift. But then I look at my son and his furrowed eyebrows and I see we were seeing Santa Claus from two very different perspectives. Me as the mother whose wallet would be opening up for his gift of choice and he as the kid who wanted to believe in something, anything. I could not believe how petty I was being. I guess I was not as tolerant of other’s people beliefs as I thought I was. Briefly, I had a flashback of my five year old self insisting to my mother that my lesbian aunt was indeed a man. Exasperated as she was, my mother kept explaining that biologically my Aunt Bobot was born a woman but had the “heart” of a man. I was too young to comprehend it and at that time, the simplest explanation appealed to me. Mama had all the time in the world to argue with me but she told me “Fine, if that is what you want to believe right now.”

I asked Josh one last time, “Gusto mo talagang maniwala kay Santa?” (“Do you really want to believe in Santa?”) and he nodded. I kissed the top of his head and decided to let the argument go. Maybe when he is a little bit older, I might open the topic for discussion again – that is, if he has not figured out the truth for himself. For now though, I will give him this. After all, this is just a preview of the things to come when he becomes a teenager and begins to form his own set of beliefs. There will be times I would have to step back and let him think for himself. So long as he does not choose to run off with a cult or harbor hatred for those who believe in other things, I should be at peace with his decisions.

Yes Joshua, there is a Santa Claus. A tooth fairy even. They can be married to each other if you want to. And somewhere in between the lair of the Sandman and the land of Oz lives a wizard who just cast a spell on your rigid mother so that she would be more tolerant and patient with her little prince.


Of Bras and Bandwagons

According to netizens, today is No Bra Day. If I am to believe my newsfeed, the goal of this campaign is to raise people’s awareness on breast cancer. I don’t know about you but it seems to me the only thing this thing will be raising is the number of erections men get while surfing the net.

Every year women like me receive messages that invite us to take part in ridiculous activities that are supposed to “help women battling breast cancer. We were asked to put on FB the color of our bras, the location we put our bags, and the way we like to wear our hair, which triggered the hullaballoo among men when they saw status updates such as “Pink and white”, “On top of the table”, and “everywhere and messy”. For years I have remained silent while my trusting (I don’t want to say gullible) friends joined the bandwagon. Today, though, I implore my female Facebook contacts to keep their bras on.

I speak from the perspective of someone whose grandmother was taken away by breast cancer. Mommy (as I called her) was vivacious, opinionated, and strikingly gorgeous. She was also known for her compassion and sense of humor, but as the cancer metastasized to her bones, she became irritable and despondent. There were days she could not get up from bed as each movement caused her severe pain. I came home from school one afternoon and my aunt told me that Mommy was gone. My grief was mixed with relief for I had seen how fragile she looked in the ICU.

The sad thing is our bout with breast cancer does not end with my grandmother’s death in 2004. Everyday is a battle because as her granddaughter with above average breast size, I am at risk for breast cancer. My mother, who had a run-in with ovarian cancer last year, is also at risk for breast cancer. If I go bra-less and post an update about it, what good will it do me? More to the point, what will it do for women who are fighting this disease?

The way I see it, this No Bra Day serves as fodder for exploitation and does not benefit cancer patients. If you want to go bra-less because your twins feel restricted, go ahead. If you want to post a bra-less photo of yourself because you want to bring sexy back, more power! But do not do these things while using disease awareness as a pretense. You want to help? Encourage women in your family above 40 to get mammograms. Educate your friends about self breast exams. Donate to organizations that aim to find a cure for breast cancer. I am doing all these things, and I will keep on doing them with my undergarments on.

Joshua Goes To School

“How are you going to introduce yourself in class?” I asked my son for the nth time. This particular topic has been a concern of mine these past few days since my son has been hell-bent on introducing himself as “Yeoshie Baby Ben 10”. As much as I want to be the type of parent who encourages her child to achieve his dream, I draw the line at having him think that he is an alien-fighting superhero.

I need not have worried. My son knew what to say and how to act in class – so much so that I felt, well, unnecessary. Armed with his Ben 10 school supplies courtesy of Rona Morala (Thanks, Boss!), he marched inside the classroom and surveyed the scene with a calm expression on his face. I pulled up a chair in the front row where he sat down and rested his arms at the back of the seat. Someone wailed and Josh turned his attention to the sound and stared at the kid, seemingly irritated.

Aaron then asked if he would be okay and with a nonchalant wave of his hand, my son dismissed us. Just like that. No crying. No whimpering. No begging for Nanay to stick around. Aaron wanted to stay outside the classroom just until Josh was settled but I grabbed his arm and told him there was no need; the little boy was already settled.

He was just like me when I started kindergarten. After my cousin dropped me off, I found myself staring at the kids, wondering why they were asking their parents to stay. It was only today that I realized that parents do not do it for the kids, they do it for themselves. There is something about your kid’s first day that tugs at your heart and reminds you that the little person standing in front of you is about to embark on his own adventure.

I had to go to work that day so I was not able to fetch him. My cousin told me Josh was so exhausted he was already swearing off school. After a slice of cake though, the little tyke was feeling a little more upbeat. I guess he got my independence AND my sweet tooth.

Enter Sandman

Tonight, the adaptability of the mother-and-son team was challenged.

My candidates were scheduled for client interview so that meant staying in the office until 11:00 PM. I really don’t have any problem with that since I get paid for overtime work. Tonight was different though, since my son was with me. This was the first time he had to stay in the office beyond the usual working hours. Mama was in Cavite and my son still does not have a nanny so no one will be left at home with him. My boss was worried about the set-up’ she felt bad for Josh but I assured her that my son is as low-maintenance as his Nanay. I figured he would just just sleep on the sofa while I worked.

However, I forgot two very important details: 1. my son detests sleeping with the lights on, and 2. he did not take his afternoon nap today. Apparently, he went with Aaron when the latter went to Glorietta to meet up with his college friend, Julan. Aside from talking their ears off, my manipulative son cajoled the guys into bringing him to Timezone. Then they went to Starbucks. Lord knows the amount of sugar they consumed while they were there. A few minutes after 4:00 PM, Aaron called me to tell me they were downstairs so I brought my son to our HR office and let him play games on the computer.

At 7:00 PM, he was already raising the white flag. “Nanay, antok na ako.” he said. I asked if he was willing to sleep on the sofa and he said it was okay but when we got to the reception area, I remembered that I can’t turn out the lights. We proceeded to the “chill-out” room and he settled on the cushions. Almost thirty minutes had gone by and he still wasn’t asleep. I also felt a tantrum coming on.

I was about to concede to the thought that I would not be able to get any work done for the remainder of the evening but then I got struck by a flash of brilliance. I recalled that when he was a few months old, we accidentally found out that Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” would immediately put him to sleep.

Eventually, we discovered that he also liked Razorback and Korn. I wasn’t really sure if Lars Ulrich and the gang would still have the same effect on Josh but I was running out of options, so I got my cellphone, played Enter Sandman and whaddya know, his eyes were closed by the middle part of the song. When it ended, he mumbled “Isa pa”, so I played Wolfgang’s “Arise”.

And just like that, my baby was sound asleep.

Philo Grad ≠ Douche

Please don’t assume the following just because I’m a Philo graduate:

That I will spend my life unemployed since it is a useless course.

I’ve been employed way before I entered college and had no difficulties finding work as an undergrad and as a graduate. Being employed is a combination of the person’s educational background, ability, and willpower.

That it is a useless course.

It is not. You may have read this time and again but the strenuous mental exercises we have been subjected to in college have equipped us with better interpersonal, logical, speaking, and writing skills. Besides, what constitutes a useful course anyway? The rate in which its grads are in demand? Every generation has an “in-demand” course. A course will only be useless if opt not to practice what you’ve learned while studying it.

That I want to be a lawyer, a priest, or a professor.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the aforementioned things are noble professions but there are different career opportunities for philo grads aside from teaching, tending to the flock, or grandstanding. There are Philo grads who went the corporate route, and interestingly, there are even a few who have forayed into IT.

That I constantly want to engage in a debate with you.

I am argumentative by nature so don’t blame my major for that. Besides, I won’t waste time talking to you if all you want to do is present me with fallacious statements. We might as well move on to more productive things.

That I want to discuss politics and religion with you.

I’m traditional when it comes to that. Those are two topics I would likely never get myself into out of respect for other people’s beliefs.

That I’m an atheist.

For the record, I’m not. Though I’m not a fan of organized religion and heavily doubt the existence of heaven and hell, I still believe in a Superior Being.

That I can discuss Kant and Aristotle on command.

From time to time, I may need to consult my notes or (gasp!) Google, to remember what the sages said. Besides, nobody understands Kant.

That everything I say is metaphorical

When I say I need to go to the restroom, there is no subliminal message there. I just really need to go to the restroom.

That I don’t like talking to people.

Reflecting without sharing is not only selfish, it also defeats the purpose of philosophizing.

That I think like Einstein.

Though I know some people who like to think of themselves as intellectuals; Philosophy, in general, has taught me that we only know so little and there is so much to learn in such a short lifetime.

That I have the answers to everything.

Oh I wish I did.

That I walk around with a pained expression on my face brought about by my constant mulling of life.

It’s most probably constipation.


When Loperamides Are Hard To Come By

If you’ve experienced sweaty palms, goosebumps, chills, and a churning stomach all at the same time then chances are, you’ve tried holding your bowels while in a public place.

Come on, there’s no shame in admitting it. True, the memory of controlling Number 2 is something you’d very much bury in the deep recesses of your mind but it happens to everyone. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t worry, it will. The experience will start with a minor urge to poop but will remain bearable, depending on what you’ve had for lunch. It’ll then progress to a throbbing pain in the stomach and a pressure somewhere in your body which you’re certain has nothing to do with tension headache. The throbbing will come and go (like labor pains), but there’ll come a point when the contractions are too closely-spaced. This is the dangerous part for here you run the risk of accidentally unleashing all that you are and all that you have. The pain is persistent and this time it’s coupled with heavy perspiration. Oddly enough, you don’t feel warm. Quite the opposite, you actually feel cold despite the turtle-necked shirt and corduroy jacket you’re wearing. If it weren’t for the long sleeves, your friends would’ve seen raised tiny hairs all over your arms. Speaking of friends, you’re currently not speaking to them as the slightest tap on the shoulder provokes you into having a major hyper-conniption fit. You’re not sure if they can hear the agitation building up within your stomach walls. You desperately want to fart, if only for a brief release from this sheer torture, but you can’t as you fear that you might not just emit gas but give birth to its “brown-haired twin” also. So you wait. Until something warm trickles down your pants and everyone in the room turns to stare at you: the person who just turned himself into a living embarrassment as well as a human pudding dispenser.

Or you could be lucky and find an empty restroom just in the nick of time. Slamming through one of the cubicles, you sit down on the throne almost praising a Higher Being as you grunt, squirt, and push your way through relief. Your legs fold and you occasionally grab/scratch on the walls while you simultaneously drop the bomb and regret the pasta carbonara which you washed down with milk earlier. Mom always taught you to share and right this moment, you wish you had. Suddenly, you hear footsteps. Oh crap, someone else is inside the comfort room and is patiently waiting outside the cubicle you’re using. Not even close to being done, you feign vomiting to indicate that you’re not leaving anytime soon. Mercifully, he/she takes the hint and hies off to the water closet on the next floor, leaving you to finish your job.

Finally, it’s all over. Reaching behind for the flush, you press it, only to realize that it’s broken. Oh well, you’re just going to have to leave a souvenir behind. Unfortunately, the bidet doesn’t work as well, nor is there any dipper in sight so you’ll have to make do with tissue knowing it’s gonna leave a skid mark on your undies and you ass will alternately itch and hurt like hell for the rest of the day.

As you open the door, another person enters the room and in that instant you apprehend the reality that you can’t deny to him/her that you were the most recent occupant of the defiled stall. So what do you do? The most natural thing, of course. Scrunching your face, you hurry past the ill-fated individual while muttering, “Ay grabe wag ka dito, ang dumi ng banyo. Tignan mo may nag-iwan pa dun sa cubicle!

It’s a universal truth. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Coffee and Ink

The tall plastic cup of mocha frap was making rings on the wooden table. He shivered a little but took a sip of the cold coffee anyway. One of these days, he will be brave enough to order hot coffee, he just did not know hot to say it unlike his adventurous and well-off friends – the ones who could afford the Php 180.00 cup of hot latte with two Splenda and extra shot of espresso which he almost always considered highway robbery.  Today was not the day to be adventurous or act well-off. He only had the energy to be brave today and so he ordered his usual (or at least the coffee he ordered every other payday) and plunked down on one of the oversized chairs

If someone from the busy café would look up from whatever it was he or she was reading, that person would see Miguel as the image he had always wished to portray: an artist on the cusp of making a literary breakthrough. One would think he was a writer hell-bent on creating a piece that would evoke the deepest emotions and catapult him to the highest success. The first part was true, he is an aspiring writer, but right now all the emotions he is capable of drawing forth are the ones voluntarily spilling from him.

It was the last time, he knew it. Things have always been ugly for him and Gary but last night was one of the worst.  Slightly tipsy from their night of partying, Gary put his arms around him and started nuzzling his neck and nibbling his earlobe, the way he usually did when he wanted the night to end on a high note with Miguel on his stomach, and him collapsed on top of his partner; but Miguel was not in the mood. He saw Gary flirting with one of the guests at the dinner party his sister hosted for Gary’s promotion. He could not bring it up because he knew Gary was just going to deny it; or worse, he would actually believe Gary when he would tell Miguel he was crazy and was just overthinking things. He hated it when Gary brushed off his worries, he hated it when Gary laughed at his concerns and would say to him he was the only one who mattered to him despite his past, despite his former lovers. He hated how Gary was so handsome that women could not help but flock to him even though it was so obvious that he is gay and his past relationships with women were nothing more than attempts to find out his true sexual identity. He hated how Gary was so open with everything that he was able to fish stories about his exes within months of being together.  He hated himself for looking at the Facebook page of each of these ex boyfriends/girlfriends and trying to find out anything that could be wrong with them. She was too homely. He was too flamboyant. Her features were too sharp. He sounded stupid in his Description. He hated himself, but he hated Gary too because Gary had a past, which in turn gave Gary more personality. Gary had a stable job. Gary brought in more. Gary stayed out later, because he was more busy with his job and this was like Gary slapping Miguel on the face with the truth that he was nothing more but an ambitious writer, not even capable of writing a decent break-up letter.

“I’m leaving you,” the scribble on the paper read, “because you have no respect for what I do or for what I dream about becoming.  You don’t listen when I pitch my ideas, you can’t be excited for me except when you want me on your knees. You finish too early when we are having sex. You never take me out on dates anymore, maybe because you think it is enough you already paid for the tuition fee for my MA.  There’s no longer romance, no spontaneity. I’m leaving you because it will only be a matter of time before you realize you want to be with another person. ”

His heart was beating a little faster, he did not know if it was because of the blatant manner in which he wrote the letter or because he tried to finish his frap. The frap that costs as much as the daily allowance Gary gave him. Perhaps that was it, his heart was beating fast because he did not know where he was going to find money to get to and from school when his measly salary would run out. That is what he always loved about Gary, he did not think twice about sharing his money. But it meant cutting back on the affection.

Taking one last gulp, he scanned the letter for any grammatical errors or misspelled words. Satisfied there was none, he retrieved his mobile phone from his pocket to call his best friend and ask her for help in moving out from the apartment he shared with Miguel, rather, the apartment Gary paid for but was mostly used by Miguel since Gary was often in Cebu, sweet-talking the clients into putting up another franchise. It would take at least two days before Gary would realize he was gone for good. Miguel imagined the look of confusion on Gary’s face when he would notice the shoe rack was free again. Miguel found himself liking this mental picture.

Anita answered and her knowing sigh brought Miguel out of his reverie. He could almost see her rolling her eyes on the other end of the line.  He told her this would be the last and he was not going to sleep over at Gary’s after a few days and eventually move back in after two weeks.  They hung up and Miguel felt a sour taste in his mouth from both the coffee and what he was about to do. Gathering his things, he heard his phone beep and saw that it was Gary. “Baby, where are you? I’m in Ayala right now. Let’s have lunch?”

Miguel continued gathering his things and stepped out of the coffee shop, but not before crumpling the paper and leaving it on the table.