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What’s Going On?

SOMETIME IN September last year, at about 2 in the morning, I checked on my parents’ bedroom to see how they’re doing. It’s a regular thing for me. The habit buildup started when two years ago, my dad had high fever and was diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia.

That morning, I had just finished editing news stories for Palawan Times. When I went in to their bedroom, I found my mom semi-unconscious, sitting on the bathroom floor and snorting — she was forcing air to her nostrils, which to me was a sign that she’s having difficulty breathing.

My dad was sleeping soundly on his side of their bed; I had to shout to wake him up so he could help me with my mother. I woke up everybody at home and my cousin Jieboy in the next house, who’s big enough to carry her so I could bring her to the hospital.

I learned that when a person is semi-unconscious or unconscious, he becomes heavy as he’s not capable of doing anything to make his weight lighter to those helping him.

My mom was diagnosed with low potassium and sodium — in short, she has an imbalance in her electrolytes . Or at least, that was what her doctor told me even if I have problems understanding what the names are.

Since I didn’t continue my nursing course, I never cared to find out about these things. They’re too science for me and I abhor medical dictionaries because they make me feel like I’m only about a yard away from my crypt.

I don’t even like it when friends give me flowers as they also make me feel the same — feels like I’m going to be buried already the next hour no matter how beautiful the flowers are in a bouquet arrangement.

Again in December, we brought mom to the hospital because she was complaining about pains on her back and she was repetitively vomitting. I was worried … her face had lost color, it had turned pallid. The moment I saw her like that, I told my dad we have to bring her to the hospital before anything worst happens.

At first, my mom was fighting me on my suggestion. She said she’s ok, all she needed was to lie down in bed to rest. I wasn’t convinced.

My parents are my weakness. I’m such a worrier when it comes to them — I don’t know, but I honestly think the habit was formed when my dad had his own case of about a week’s flu and we didn’t know what’s causing it. Not typhoid fever, not dengue, not malaria… we were really puzzled what it was until he went to Manila and sought the help of a hematologist. That was when we were told his anti-bodies were coating his red blood cells.

His ok now. But he’s still continously taking frednizone (a type of steroids) to correct what’s wrong in his blood base on his Coombs’ test.

Both my parents are self-willed and stubborn. They’re always determined not to follow advices when it comes to their health because they think they will forever be physically strong. That’s what I honestly think.

My dad doesn’t like doctors; he never believes in them. I’m trying to understand this is because until two years ago, he has never been hospitalized his entire life.

Because he plays tennis, never drinks and never smokes, he thought he’s never going to fall ill. Many times I have told him that he’s not getting any younger, he doesn’t give a hoot. I’ve always had problems making him understand that when one’s aging, physical changes happen too.

My mom, on the other hand, has diabetes and high blood pressure. These are the two illnesses that make her take many “maintenance medicine” — in many different colors too. Sometimes, I would kid that they all look like little buttons that would look good adorning my most ugly shirt, and she would just laugh.

I used to not worry about her because I trust that she takes care of herself well. She bought a sugar testing tube, and this is what she uses to check on her sugar level, and also a stethoscope to check her blood pressure.

I’ve learned how to use the sugar testing gadget — it was easy. I sought to do this because I want to help her. I don’t really know when she’s going to be incapable doing the test on her own, I figured its best that I know.

Last Saturday, my mother fainted while my cousin was talking to her in the bedroom. We rushed her to the Cooperative Hospital that’s near our house so she can be taken cared of. Once more, her face had turned pallid. This really scared me.

Her doctor said she has low potassium and low sodium again. Last night, while I was in a big event involving our organization, my sister Cecil called to tell me mom needed blood transfusion as she has turned anemic. She needed 500 cc of blood type A+

As far as I know, this is the first time she ever needed to be tranfused. Cecil said my mother’s doctor also wanted her to have her urine collected within 24 hours for creatinine clearance. This is to see if something is wrong with her kidney.

I tried reading today about what’s going on with my mom. I started on the Internet with low potassium and the word “kidney” is there. Then I followed it with reading about “creatinine clearance.”

There are so many words to understand; I don’t know where to jump start my reading comprehension. I know I have to do this so I can help manage her health at home.

This is the same feeling I had when I started reading on the Internet about “autoimmune hemolytic anemia” — words were big to me then, it took me a while to understand what’s being said in the materials to read.

Right now, I’m anxious. I can’t wait to hear the result of this creatinine clearance test. I’m still reading about it online and my head is swimming with medical terms. I had to switch windows just so I can go to an online medical dictionary so I can grasp the meaning of what I’m being informed.

I’m normally patient when it comes to long research readings. This time however, my patience is slowly being reduced to an unmanageable level… I just don’t like the feeling.

Right now, I’m being hopeful and prayerful that everything will turn out ok for my mother. God, let it be ok.

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FOR THE first time again in so many years, I attended our family reunion organized by the elderlies in the REYNOSO clan.

If it wasn’t really for my dad’s unreasonably determined order for me to go down the barangay hall (the place is just in front of our house) and join, I wouldn’t attend.

I wouldn’t go because I always dread being cannonballed with questions like — Are you married already?”; “How many kids do you have now?”; “Is your husband here?” — when they very well know I still don’t have a husband. And since that’s the truth, how can he be anywhere and how can I have the number of kids they want to believe I have?

If the questions were not meant as insults (hahaha!), I could easily say they’re dogged reminders that I am already 30-something and the last bus ride is about to come, where’s my bridal train?

Or shouldn’t that be the last train ride? Hmmm…

Just what is wrong with being single?

Ahm… excuse me, that’s a whole lot if you go by what you see around you, and by the standards of your relatives who all think the same way.

If you’re not married by the age of 25, that means your doomed to be an old maid. That’s it! The next level for you to move on is called the join-the-Home-for-the-Old-Maid with an altitude of 10,000 feet. And there’s a special offer… oh, yes, there is… that is, tadah… you get to be it’s president.

Important ideas of couplehood prevail everywhere — whether you don’t go out of your room for the next 10 years, or stay under your table, or even when you’re relieving yourself in the bathroom — everything revolves around love relationships.

How come loveless and sexless soap operas do not exist? Does anyone know? Even horror films have the love angle.

The term “OLD MAID” is no longer politically correct, right? Then how come there are still surprise responses to an old woman who comes into the room and she is single?

I have not experienced this kind of social discrimination, and if I do, I’ll just raise my eyebrows and laugh my heart out loud. Or didn’t I? In the reunion, remember?

Basically, being single affords each of us the opportunity to discover who we are, what we do and don’t like, how we deal with things, what we want out of life, what our expectations are, what our potentials and limitations are, what energizes and empowers us, and what discourages and disappoints us. The goal of being alone should not be to prepare us for couplehood. Rather, the goal of being single should be to learn to fulfill ourselves, to meet our needs, and to develop as a human being regardless of whether or not we choose to enter into a relationship. By learning to love and care for ourselves, we diminish the risk of starving for someone else to fill the void within our souls; a void that only we can truly fill. The purpose of entering into a relationship should be to share oneself with another person as opposed to trying to get from someone what is lacking in ourselves. Expecting someone else to fill in the gaps usually results in grave disappointments , a sense of failure, and endless resentment.

Being in an unhealthy relationship is no more admirable than being alone and isolated. However, choosing to be single can be just as satisfying (if not more so) than thriving in a healthy relationship. With the advent of increased divorces, delayed marriages, fewer births, and growing female independence, more and more people will find themselves single. So, why not make the most of it? Sit back, have a soda, and try belching as loud as you can! You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try! — (Sherry Obenauer M. Ed., M.A.)

I don’t have problems being single. What I do have now are thoughts about how to avoid next year’s family reunion without really trying.

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October 7, 2008 — still in Cebu

WE LEFT the port of Cebu way past 9:30 p.m. I didn’t feel it any more. I was numbed from tiredness, not to mention that short 9-inch stint by the edge of the water. I couldn’t even look forward to being in Dapitan, which I was supposed to be happy about because I love trailing history.

That night, I was moving about aimlessly, not knowing what’s going to happen next in the agenda (if there’s any). All I knew then was we had to wait for 9 hours before we land our curious feet in Dapitan. Nine hours was a mixture of quiet agony, chats that almost lack common sense, outrageous banters, catnaps, checking boat exits and lifesavers, watching Betty La Fea from a television that’s located far from our double decks, and criticizing the unfriendly white paint of the vessel. It did feel like we were in a floating hospital.

At one point, we went out to see how the Cebu pier and all of it visible to the eye would look under the evening sky. The sight was, of course, extraordinarily good! The nicest view before one falls asleep.

In front of this Catholic church in Dapitan City is the garden map that residents there said Dr. Rizal made himself. (Taken October 11, 2008)

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire. If all fires are these beautiful, I’d gladly allow myself to burn. (Taken October 8, 2008)

October 8, 2008 — finally, Dapitan City!

I’m not sure what time I fell asleep the night before, but that sound the vessel made as it approached the small pier in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte was so attractive, it started my morning right. It means we’ve arrived finally. I could kiss the ground.

The sun was already preparing to rise from the horizon when I went out, armed only by a toothbrush, a toothpaste and my digital camera. I can see its golden rays beautifully highlighting the landscape, giving it that much-needed appeal a convention-delegate-trying-to-also-be-tourist like us would like.

Carlo and Malou, my best friend and the incoming president of JCI Puerto Princesa Kiao, were already at the corridor ahead of me. I went to the bathroom first to brush my teeth, and then followed them outside to see what the world has there in store for us.

It was a nice morning; breathtaking sunrise for very eager people like us to leave the pier and be where the action is in Dipolog. On second thought, a sunrise aficionada won’t let go of the chance to be filled with a kind of magic, the kind of power that she knew was from a Higher Being. To see sunrise is to be given a new chance at life. To live it and dwell in its gifts, more than seeing natural arts that depict fantastic subjects in a realistic manner.

Dapitan became an important site in the Philippines’ historical map even before the Spaniards came to Mindanao. The first settlers of the place were the Subanens from Indonesia. They’re called Subanens because they live along river banks. In Cebu last year, we lived for about three days at Subang Dako, or “big river.” Suba means river. Subanens — therefore, river people.


Save my life, lifesavers.

We failed to get good seats in the bus that comes one time in the pier to fetch GP Lines passengers whenever it arrives due to that sunrise gig. From the pier, we had no choice but to take tricycles to reach Dipolog City that we learned was still about an hour away.

Didn’t someone tell us it’s only 15 minutes away?

Docking at Dapitan pier, and cruising its main streets, made me realize that life in ZaNorte seems to be “living on the edge of, living at the edge of, living by the edge of, living in the edge of…”

The houses I saw by the pier stand so high on stilts, I wonder how their owners get down from them without being scared of falling. Even the homes we passed by in the highway appear to be by the edge of a creek, a salt-making farm, a hill — whatever. I’ve never thought of any place like this. Not even in my own province where I had braved treks in the jungle just to see the Pala’wans on my birthday some years ago.


Tricycles that only need propellers to jet to the skies.

The tricycle we rode alone, made me on the edge. They’re pretty much like our own in Puerto Princesa; the only difference is that they’re manufactured higher, making it difficult to clamber up and down with our bags.

My adventurous clone told me it’s alright; that it’s exciting to get on the escapade and not mind danger and paranoia. Never mind the fact that they run on land but makes you feel cruising the air space at a speed that makes your belly highly strung — like holding on to dear life suddenly had a LIFE of its own and it’s overwhelming emotionally. Awww!

It’s not easy getting to Dipolog via Dapitan pier, its roads, and tricycles, if you have your whole house with you. It may not be living dangerously, but you’re always courting the possibility of jeopardy to come and fool around.

Of course, this is not to say that I don’t like Dapitan. Any place that embraces history as part of its BEING is worthy of visit, of staying for a while. I may not be a great fan of Dr. Jose Rizal, yet since his part of Philippine History, someone who made life hard for me in college just to get to know him — why not?

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