Tuesday, August 7


Last two weeks was hectic. We were expecting some guests and as usual, we were so busy doing the preparation – general cleaning, planning the recipes and all those things that go with it. My sisters especially - they woke up early and slept late. I was wondering why all the fuss for a two-day fiesta celebration? I mean, it happens every year! Nothing new about it. But this year's celebration was different, I was told. Linda and Walding are coming. In case you're wondering, they're my sisters' best friends. They went to the same school, lived in the same apartment, ate the same food, et cetera. The last year (or was it last two?) I was in highschool then and got to know them for quite a while. Being the youngest of the roommates, I was not on their level of thinking and being of different “breed” (not really the right word,I know but I'd change that if the right word comes along), I stayed at the background and whether or not they knew it, they were my idols. You see, unlike the other occupants of the adjacent apartment who often times had differences and tiffs, they seemed to have no problems at all, living together. I remember them as friends in the real sense of the word.

I confess that I was a bit apprehensive. You see, there were times when somebody I was working with or was at one time or another my roommate or classmate, would just greet me and call me by name and I had no idea who he or she is. Or if I do remember because we were friends once upon a time, there's just nothing to talk about anymore. So there was this fear that I might not be a good company. While I could do some weather-talk, it's just not enough to hold a conversation. Small talk is boring and embarrassing.

As it turned out, Linda and Walding haven't changed that much. Sure they've grown into matured and fine ladies, and well- traveled at that, but otherwise, they are just being as they were as I knew them 45 years ago: fun to be with.

And we didn't even talk about the weather.


When i was still studying at PSID in Makati, there were a lot design projects to do. I remember hurrying to the classroom, carrying a T-square on one hand and on the other, a bag full of triangles, pencils, watercolors, oil pastels,  brushes and a rigid envelop containing all of the design plates that our instructors so love to assign us. Weeknights were spent making perspective drawings from floor plans complete with color renderings. It took a lot of effort to make just one plate. Imagine making three in one week! It's ironic though that I still think it was the best episode of my life.I enjoyed the challenge of making the plates, especially on subjects like Color Rendering, Freehand and Perspective Drawings. Architectural and Art History was quite boring but there was one subject that really made me anxious: Interior Design I. Our instructor was very critical. His verbal assaults can be discouraging. My first plate was, according to him, capricious. I didn't know exactly what he meant, but by the way he said it, I knew it was not a compliment. When he returned our plates, I stared at the red marking he mercilessly scribbled on my plate: 2.5 - barely passing the prelim. It was the only subject that marred my report card. I hated him that moment.

During the finals, he made us design our own ideal private spaces. A place of well-being, he called it. Most of my classmates had such grandiose ideas but I opted to be honest about it. So I designed my ideal bedroom. We were required to explain in writing why we think it is our place of well-being. Then came the time to submit our plates. My anxiety grew as our instructor mounted our plates on the wall. There were so many drawings, good and bad, of log cabins, mountain resorts and beach houses. Mine looked pathetic compared to the others. A bedroom! To make matters worse, he called each one to read what he wrote while our instructor holds the student's plate for us to see. We had a few laughs but most of the time we were silent. When it was my time to stand in front and read, the bell rang, My friend Ellie whispered to me: You're saved by the bell. I smiled at her and said: So are you. And we both laughed. Her plate was mounted next to mine.

The following week, we had our grades. Most of my final grades from other subjects were either one point less or more than midterm, but to my surprise and relief, my Interior Design I grade of 2.5 became 1.4 -  quite a big leap, if I might add. My only regret though is that of not knowing why. If I wasn't saved by the bell, would I have listened to a compliment instead?


There's just too much work to do in the garden, and thinking about it makes you want to quit sometimes. But then, little by little, a 20 meter plot is almost ready for planting after many days of hard work. There's so much investment there: time, labor (yours, and a hired hand) and yes, love! and you just can't leave it bare.

While this may sound like you're making a mountain out of a molehill to those who haven't tried it, I'm sure many gardeners would agree. I mean, only gardeners experience the frustrations in this line of work - frustrations like weeds, pests, too much rain ( or lack of it), sweltering heat and just like what we had a few days ago, stormy weather. And in your frustrated mind you asked questions like why do weeds grow faster than your pampered broccoli? Why of all the plants and weeds and grass and shrubs that grow in abundance nearby, pests choose to nibble on young leaves of your squash? Why can't a weather be good all the time? Why can't it stop raining? Why do typhoons come when the corn is in its most vulnerable?

But then, like everything else, these problems end, one by one. The weather becomes favorable, the pests find the maturing leaves too hard and brittle for their liking and weeds succumbed to constant assault. The compost that you put in your plot just started to take effect and your veggies growing just fine. That's when you find yourself humming a tune while pottering around the garden. You see the first huge yellow flower of squash and to you, it seems like a child's brilliant smile and you smile back! Frustrations? What frustrations? Hah!

The first sign of success perks you up so you made plans last night. Still you can't decide which vegetable to plant next to the bunching onions. Tomatoes? Snap beans? Peanuts? Radish? Melon? A bit of a problem as you can see when you have too many choices. Of course, it won't be too difficult to decide if you didn't buy all those packets of all those seeds!

You wake up earlier nowadays - too early a few times so you impatiently sit on the doorstep, waiting for the sun to show up. Even then, your impatience is rewarded (as if you deserve it). Just before the sun appears above the horizon, the colors of the spectrum tinting the sky greets you. As you walk through a thinning fog and open the garden gate, the waft of dew- laden grass awakens the senses.

The thought of quitting disintegrates.

And that's the other trouble of gardening. You just can't quit.