Of Steels and Butterflies (Thoughts on Father’s Day)

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My essay bearing the same title was originally published 3 years ago at a Military  Newsletter “KANLURAN” as a contributor.

“Of Steels and Butterflies” was originally  dedicated to soldiers who was deployed all over the Philippines  to safeguard the peace, leaving their children behind, and spending Father’s Day on some secluded spot, often without any means of communications, not sure if that was the last time they’ll say goodbye.

During a Medical Civic Action Program on a mountain with my unit, (I was a Broadcast Program Producer/Writer and Civil Military Operations Specialist for  the Philippine Marines at the time)  I was touched and inspired by a Marine Medic checking up babies and giving medicines, while his own 4-month old baby was sick.

When I asked why did not he filed a leave of absence to tend to his own child, he said that instead of  spending a lot of money to go home to his province (about P20,000 in a round trip ticket) he opted to just send it through money courier to be used for the hospital. He just can’t hide all the feelings in his  eyes.

Last night while re-arranging the content of my overstuffed cabinet, I found the magazine again. While reading it, memories and thoughts came flooding by. I was thinking how our Fathers are very  like our own personal warriors who will fight for our survivals , the strong guardians who will do everything to keep us safe, the thoughful provider who will give us more than what we  need, the teacher who wants us to learn by facing our own fears and find our own strength, the fashion critic who will not let you out of the house for wearing such revealing clothes, but encourage us to be ourselves, unique from all the world, our very own adventure guide in life, the master advicer, the great strategist, the handyman, the awesome cook, personal driver and  motivator.

In  my case, i am my father’s grestest fan.

He is a writer and a very awesome photographer. His works express passion, dedication and pure talent, one which i tried to imitate but failed to come even close to half.

I followed (tried) on his footsteps. I took Journalism and took units in Photography to make him proud of me. He is my harshest critic in all things, though he always said the words in gentle manner, that to my sensitive ear always sounds the loudest.

He is the type of man that is pure steel outside. He doesn’t always show emotion and had an amazing control over his feelings. But when he do, he is not afraid to cry.

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I hope one day that i can tell you the full story of his life. For surely what he endured will break a weaker heart and  soul. But he came unscathed and even stronger than before. It will be a story i would be proud share to the world when the time is right.

I love that man greatly.

Happy Father’s Day from my little island in the West Philippines.

SAVE SOME SPACE IN YOUR LIFE FOR FAIRYTALES

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“I know what you want. It is very stupid of you, but you shall have your way, and it will bring you to sorrow, my pretty princess. ” – The Sea Witch, Hans Christian Andersen,  LITTLE MERMAID

Fairytales are made up by same stuff that compose our dreams, or nightmares, sometimes. It is where imaginations best manifest itself. But when we look closely and lift the mist that separates fantasy from reality, you’ll see that imagination is ,after all, a figment of our own reality.

The world is a very dark place. Everyday we are bombarded by news about  criminalities, war, disasters, and death. But it’s also full of beauty,  happiness, hope, kindness and love, above all. So like all the fairytales we had grew up with.

When i was young, my late Lola (my mother’s mother) used to tell me and my cousins a lot of bedtime stories.Tales about beautiful maidens waiting for their long lost true love by the sea, of a man  led by an old hag to the cave full of treasures only to be tricked and  sacrificed to dragons, about the endless journey of a boat to the end of the world in a quest to find heart of gold,  of mermaids pulling down sailors to to their kingdom deep down the sea, to deep dark abyss, about how flowers bloom everytime a new born cries, and my favorite, the little candle’s soul flying up the skies to bring your wishes to heaven on your birthday.

I can’t remember the full  details of these stories now, I was always disappointed when a seemingly perfect story were ruined by chance, or choice, destiny or plain evillness in the story, so I tried to persuade my lola to change it the way I want  and go for a different ending. But she will always refuse, telling me that things always happen far from what we expect, and that we just can’t simply change it to accommodate our will most of the time, but we have the choice to fight and survive the challenge. She will then explain why a particular detail affected the ending, why the maiden should have boarded the third  boat that came, instead of spending her life waiting or a prince that will never come back.the point, I think is all about a better judgement on this one.

My lola’s family is from a long line of healers and their beliefs in the keeper of the lands, Anito, the fairies and the unseen, were passed deeper and deeper down each generation along with their abilities to explain the “inexplainable”. Though my grandma is a devout Catholic, she also believed in the superstitions and old wives tales. Like all the old dwellers in the island where i grew  up, she won’t pass old trees in the forest without asking permission to the unseen Inhabitants lurking near.

The first batch of newly harvested Mais (corn) is often grilled so the guardians of the crops will enjoy it’ essence too. As a witness to all these tribute to supernatural, (although I haven’t seen any winged creatures waving a wand  personally) , I always have respect for those who believe in the old ways.

Through all these stories, i had my first glimpse of reality. That sometimes we have to experience pain, like the little mermaid, not just to learn, but to feel life and love.

I can say that i have learned so much, sometimes, the hard way.

Of all the fond memories of my childhood, story-telling nights with my lola always  brings bittersweet tears. I miss her.

And as I’ve learned from all those tales under the silvery glow of the moon, life is full of road that seems to lead nowhere, of trickery, of darkness waiting to close in to you at your most vulnerable.

You may not be the ideal princess, but you  have fought and won real battles against nasty witches, beast and dragons, and still trying to survive to find  the trail out of this world’s wilderness everyday.

I know not all the frogs you’ve found in the past did not changed into handsome princes, or that they never came back (some were regular trolls haha) but i hope that at least you have found some true hearts made of gold along the way, as i had, from my real-life fairy godmothers who believed in me, and saw the real princess beneath all the  rags.

Paint all your reality with colors of happiness, and make every waking hours full with glitters of hope. It doesn’t matter what the world expect from you. Write your own story,  find your own path, create your on  backdrop,and save some space in your heart for those who are  yet to come in your life.

Good rainy afternoon from Palawan!