Finding Pure Gold – A Reunion Story

 

Very recently, I became a golden girl. Turning 50 has its perks. You care more about substance rather than form. Men still take a good look at you and respectfully, smile. I like this. It used to be winks, or long glazed stares that make you either uncomfortable or could make you stare back. You think it matters? Perhaps two decades ago, when we sought some attention at an age when we were neither too young nor old enough, it could have meant something.

But it does not matter anymore, not at all, not now when I am half a century old!  Isn’t this grand?  I used to think, wow, when I’d get to this age, will I be wearing long skirts and tie my hair in a tight bun? What will it be like? Will there be many unwelcome changes? Surprise! It feels good. I only need to lose a few pounds; otherwise, it feels so good. It makes you thankful, that you have reached this ripeness of age.  It is very similar to knowing what you want and getting it. You understand what contentment is and know its cousin satisfaction.

The knowledge that you have gone through so much and have learned as much makes you slow-nod your head in quiet understanding. I remember thinking how ancient this age would probably be like. Now I throw my head back in laughter because my thoughts were as lacking in finesse as the age I was in when I thought them.

Would I wish to go back to my youthful days? To what? To be clumsy and awkward again? To be reckless and uncaring again? Should I turn back the hands of time and relive certain memorable moments? The thought took form when, one magical weekend, a group of childhood friends gathered together, after 33 years of being apart. A fluke! That the friend who put up a facebook page is named Jesus.  Jesus Betia, Jr.

And yes, what a gift for a golden girl! Is it possible to relive our youth, minus the awkwardness, the confusion, the curiosity, the ignorance or was that arrogance, too?! Yes it is!

After only a few months of filling the page, we were able to plan something quick. All eager, all missing one another, we set a date. This was not easy because some lived in the U.S., others in Canada, Japan, and scattered in the Philippine Islands. But, when people decide to do something and commit, the wheels of the universe also start turning and things happen.

Nobel cor. Edison St., Makati

We once lived in a street called Nobel. We always mention Edison in Makati to let people know where this is. If it were not enough, you have to say Buendia and add Bautista. Those who know the main avenues would easily know where it is. Some would volunteer knowing all the other streets in Barangay San Isidro named after inventors: Marconi, Bell, Morse, Galvani, Faraday, etc.

The family friends we made include the Santoses, the Dys, the Betias, the Borromeos, the Evangelistas, the Mallaris, and the Patrimonios. The families became close not just by the proximity of homes, but by the friendships formed among the children and the parents. More intimately, there’s Angie, Tere, Mercy and Dothy, Danny and Rey, Lynn, Jesus, John-John and Con-con, Jun, Rey Dy, Matt, Ate Fely, Winnie and Siony, Boy P., Ponggie, Al, Mabeth, Beng and Elvie, Juan, Ellen, Judith, Daday, Mico, Gino, Nino and Ana. Of course my own beloved siblings, Cynthia, Bobby and Badong. And there were some more, much younger, but Nobel-Edison youth still.

For many years, in our case ten, we not only lived next to one another, we played the best of games on the street where we lived. There were times when rainstorms flooded the streets and you would think we’d be staying indoors, but we waded in the murky waters instead. No flood would stop the Nobel-Edison children from playing.

Play was a serious matter. It meant gathering the best players for each patintero team, cops and robbers (we used to say Touching Rubber) team, even soccer/football, Chinese garters, jackstones, skipping rope, hide and seek and whatever other games we could play.

There were no personal computers yet, no laptops, no cellphones, and so we had time to sweat on the street, to run in wild abandon, to scream, squeal our delight at winning whatever game we decided to be engrossed in for the day. As if we had all the time in the world! But yes, we gave our games the time. Despite our assigned household chores, or being required to sleep after lunch, the games had to be played.

We were children, ages 7 below, till we grew up to 17 below. Those who were older than us, had other things going for them, aside from being the despotic rulers of our magical world. They were the commanders, the older brothers and sisters who were blessed to have us to run to the stores for this or that.

Alas, nothing lasts forever. We parted ways and lost touch. Although there were times we would recall, sometimes teary-eyed and achy-heart, wondering where we could find our childhood friends again, whether we would see one another ever again.

But believing in our hearts that this day would come, it does! Facebook Assisted Reunions! Though so far apart and three decades later, we find our GOLD.

 

We found our gold in the friendship we picked up from where we left off....

Gold is the friendship that has not been ravaged by the many years of being apart from one another.  The true mark of friendship is simply picking up from where we left off and it was clear, in our warm embraces, our hugs and kisses, it was reuniting the children in us once more.

The apartment where we used to live is now the Bombo Radyo Bldg

The apartment building where we grew up, is now the Bombo Radyo Building. The noise it now makes may equal ours backthen. We trekked “our street” one more time and posed for photos. We felt its power, this great street, which witnessed us win and lose, laugh and cry, fight and make-up, and then laugh some more. It was there where we learned more than what our schools taught us.

We learned not to be lazy from the grand old men Mr. Ben Dy and Mr. Pol Santos who were up before any of us, before sunrise in fact. We learned to be tough women, from Mrs. Mary Santos and my own mother, who were strict disciplinarians. Mrs. Santos being a Navy Man’s wife who easily handled six children and my own Nanay, Pat Palomo, an ex-army nurse, widowed and raising four difficult kids.

We learned cheerfulness from Atty. Estela Betia and Tito Jess who often smiled at us kids and asked how we were. We learned kindness from Mrs. Dominga Dy and Mrs. Mallari who seemed to never raise their voices more than two notches above a whisper. Capt. And Mrs. Evangelista taught us what it was like to have many visitors every day! He was the barangay captain at the time and his wife Amalia ably assisted him. Mr. and Mrs. Borromeo taught us how it was like to care for little children by carefully watching over them.

But most of all, we learned that no amount of time can erase the wonderful feeling of being friends, no distance will stop true friends from reuniting and that love which we know we share with our family members is the same kind of love we share with these very friends whom we have known in our innocence and pureness of hearts. What a great gift for all of us who made it to the first reunion. What a privilege it was to see one another again.

Reunions made us feel like kids again.

How many people get this rare privilege? What are the chances of hugging your best childhood friends after 33 years of being apart? How do you cram all the missing information in the two days that you’re allowed to be with them? So many more stories to tell, so many lessons to share, yet so little time. But the promise of sustaining and nurturing the gift is there, in our hands now, and hearts, too.

Now that we have been reunited, it marks the beginning of hopefully longer chapters in our lives, to stay connected, to continue our communication, to keep caring for one another. This for me, is finding pure gold.

 

 

 

About Stella Palomo Monteno:

 

 

 

Stella is a Cebu City based writer, advertising practitioner and television producer. She recently turned golden and decided to trace back her roots to where she spent her childhood years.. in the streets of Makati. Stella works as a marketing consultant of a beach resort in Cebu. But most of the time, she is  a secret poetess and a novelist taking forever to finish her first published epic novel! Stella’s email address is stellla_monteno@yahoo.com.

 

 

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SIGNS – Door Signs 1

I got this set of amusing signs posted at various doors from an email coming from Reynaldo Espanola. I am sharing this with you below.

 

Sign over a Gynecologist’s Office: 
 “Dr. Jones, at your cervix.”
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In a Podiatrist’s office:
“Time wounds all heels.”
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On a Septic Tank Truck:
Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels
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At a Proctologist’s door:
“To expedite your visit please back in.”
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On a Plumber’s truck:
“We repair what your husband fixed.”
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On another Plumber’s truck:
“Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber..” 
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On a Church’s Billboard:
“7 days without God makes one weak.”
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At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee : 
“Invite us to your next blowout.”
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At a Towing company:
“We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want tows.”
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On an Electrician’s truck:
“Let us remove your shorts.” 
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In a Nonsmoking Area: 
“If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.” 
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On a Maternity Room door: 
“Push. Push. Push.”
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At an Optometrist’s Office:
“If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”
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On a Taxidermist’s window:
“We really know our stuff.”
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On a Fence:
“Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive!” 
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At a Car Dealership:
“The best way to get back on your feet – miss a car payment.” 
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Outside a Muffler Shop: 
“No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”
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In a Veterinarian’s waiting room:
“Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”
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At the Electric Company
“We would be delighted if you send in your payment.
However, if you don’t, you will be.”
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In a Restaurant window:
“Don’t stand there and be hungry, Come on in and get fed up.”
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In the front yard of a Funeral Home:
“Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”
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At a Propane Filling Station:
“Thank heaven for little grills.”
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And don’t forget the sign at a
Chicago Radiator Shop:
“Best place in town to take a leak.”

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Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

 

Today, the world lost a creative genius.  Steve Jobs died at the age of 56.

Steve Jobs changed the way we interact with technology and in doing so, he changed technology. He left his mark in so many industries:

  • the personal computers industry with Apple II and Macintosh;
  • the music industry with iPod and iTunes;
  • the phone industry with iPhone and iPad;  and,
  • the animation and the movies industries with Pixar.

 

Steve Jobs: Visionary, Entrepreneur, Icon

The man did not finish college, but was able to build a computer empire, and became a multi-millionaire.

He was fired from his own company but came back a decade later to save it and turn it into one of the world’s most influential corporations. And when he may have realized that his time is near, he paved the way for a smooth succession process.

His resignation letter when he stepped down as CEO of Apple, reflects the confidence he has in the succession process and the basic strength of the company he founded, saved, and nurtured.

 

“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.”

“I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

 

This will not be the last of my blogs about Steve Jobs. In the near future, I will write about the lessons I got from him as a visionary, and entrepreneur and an icon.

For helping make the way we do things easier  and faster, THANK YOU STEVE JOBS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Win Customers

I had this in my notebook for a long time. I am not sure whether I got  it from a book I was reading or from an article in a website. What  I am sure though, is that this set of quotations captures what every brand man has to do to win customers.

Tell me what you think.

 

Don’t sell me clothes,
Sell me sharp appearance, style and attractiveness.

Don’t sell me insurance.
Sell me peace of mind and a great future for my family.

Don’t sell me a house.
Sell me comfort, contentment, investment and pride of ownership.

Don’t sell me books.
Sell me pleasant hours and profits of knowledge.

Don’t sell me toys.
Sell my children happy moments.

Sell good feelings, self-respect, happiness and solutions to my life’s problems.

– Michael LeBoeuf  in “How to win customers and Keep Them for Life”

 

Do you agree? Why?

 

 

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St.Matthew: tax collector, sinner

 

Bureau of Customs

DAVAO City – I came early in the morning of September 21 at the Bureau of Customs District XII Office located at the Port of Davao, Barangay Sasa.  This was my second time to be inside the compound of one of the most important revenue-raising agencies of the government. It  is also perceived to be one of the most corrupt.  (An insider told me their agency is in the fifth place.)  I learned later that the District XII Office has consistently surpassed its collection targets for about 10 years in a row.  Year-to-date collection level is already Php134 million above its full year target of about Php 5.2 billion.  A great feat indeed, but not many people know or even care to know.

My first visit to Bureau of Customs’ District XII office was sometime in 1988.  I was to pick up two boxes of used reference books donated by Oxfam-UK for our newly-established Halad Foundation, a voluntary organization for relief and rehabilitation of disaster victims.  It was only two years since EDSA,  so  I thought that the culture of corruption disappeared with Marcos in Hawaii. But I was wrong.  An overweight customs officer asked me to pay  US$450 for the release of the books. I was surprised because  our expatriate friends in Manila  had already paid for the freight and other custom duties for the books. The officer said he made the computation based on the tag price of the books which were in US$ and UKpounds.

I do not have U$450,  so I asked him to reconsider his computation. I insisted that those were used books donated by a charitable institution for charity purposes.  Later he came back with a new computation of Php 450 which I immediately paid thinking it was a fair bargain.  But on my way out, he brought me to a corner and handed me raffle tickets for a coronation event and whispered in the vernacular “donasyon po Sir para sa anak ko na kandidata.”

My second visit would be different, I thought. I was not there to get a package.  I was there to interview retired Brig. General Danilo Lim, the newly appointed Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence who was to fly from Manila to Davao that day for an unspecified mission.  Our Gold Star Daily publisher Mr. Ernesto Chu called me up a day earlier to secure an interview with one of the most decorated and colorful generals in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Deputy Customs Commissioner Danilo Lim

A  few years ago General Danilo Lim refused to be used as pawn by some politicians in the game called high corruption. He chose incarceration rather than tarnish the honor of his name and his command.   He is among the few men in uniform who have the guts to spill the beans, so to speak against the excesses of their high command, much more against their commander-in-chief.

There were no big billboards and tarpaulins announcing the visit of the number 2 guy of the Bureau of Customs. There were no banquet preparations either.  Instead, the people at the lobby of the main building were preparing for the 11:00 a.m. Wednesday Novena Mass for office employees. It appears that only a few officials in the bureau knew that he is coming over. General Danilo Lim sent me a text message confirming the date and time of his arrival and asked me to meet him at the customs office.

St. Matthew

While waiting for his arrival from the airport, I decided to attend the Mass at the lobby of the Customs Office.  I don’t know if  it was providential or not, but the Gospel of the day was about St. Matthew, the tax collector who later became an Evangelist and whose house was visited by Jesus to the dismay of the Jews.  For them tax collectors are sinners because they enrich themselves for their Roman masters. This is very much like how most people today view custom collectors and BIR examiners.  But of course the end of the Gospel spoke of Jesus’ mission of saving not just the good ones but also the sinners.  A sigh of relief seems to reverberate on the walls of the lobby.

A few minutes after the mass, a convoy of five cars entered the gate of the customs office.  Excitement grew when the bespectacled General Lim wearing his signature immaculate white short-sleeve polo shirt alighted from the black Toyota Land Cruiser.  He was led to the office by the out-going customs collector.  Later in the afternoon, we joined him to the container yard to open 17 confiscated vans full of smuggled cargoes of premium rice and assorted personal goods from Taiwan and the US. That was a good “buena mano” for Commissioner Lim and his local team at the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Section. That  morning’s “catch” was Php 21 million-worth of misdeclared goods.

Kudos to Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim  and his local team. Good luck also to incoming district customs collector Atty. Martiniano Bangcoy who promised a “new beginning” for the entire bureau of customs family in Davao. We will be counting on you Sirs!

 

(This article first appeared on September 24, 2011 in  Emmanuel Roldan’s column Davao’s Peak at Mindanao Gold Star Daily (www.goldstardailynews.com) The author can be reached via email at: emmanuel.roldan@gmail.com)

 

About Emmanuel Roldan:

Emi is my kababayan from Padada, Davao del Sur. We went to the same high school and were altar boys and choir members in our parish church. Today, Emi is a news editor/columnist of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily – a member of the Sunstar Group. Aside from being a journalist, he is also a development worker and a human rights advocate having served in various organizations engaged in human rights protection and development work. At work and at play, Emi was able to nurture his childhood love for music. He still plays mean tunes on his guitar and sings very well.

 

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Parental Wisdom

I think most of us remember with fondness the instances when our parents had their own ways of calling our attention to our “palpak” moments. Following are some of the  “nuggets of wisdom” that we use to get in regular doses from our parents.

Read on as these may come in handy when you become parents yourselves.

 

1. Si Inay, tinuruan niya ako HOW TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE :
                    “Kung kayong dalawa ay magpapatayan, doon kayo sa labas!
                             Mga leche kayo, kalilinis ko lang ng bahay.”
 
2. Natuto ako ng RELIGION kay Itay
                     “Kapag yang mantsa di natanggal sa carpet, magdasal ka na!”

3.Kay Inay ako natuto ng LOGIC :
                      “Kaya ganyan, dahil sinabi ko.”

4. At kay Inay pa rin ako natuto ng MORE LOGIC:
                     “Pag ikaw nalaglag diyan sa bubong, ako lang mag-isa ang manonood ng sine.” 

5. Si Inay din ang nagturo sa akin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng IRONY:
                      “Sige ngumalngal ka pa at bibigyan talaga kita ng iiyakan mo!”
 
6. Si Inay ang nagpaliwanag sa akin kung ano ang CONTORTIONISM:
                        “Tingnan mo nga yang dumi sa likod ng leeg mo, tingnan mo!!!”

7. Si Itay ang nagpaliwanag sa akin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng STAMINA: 
                          “Wag kang tatayo diyan hangga’t di mo nauubos lahat ng pagkain mo!”

8. At si Inay ang nagturo sa amin kung ano ang WEATHER:                                                                                        “Lintek talaga kayo, ano ba itong kuwarto nyong magkapatid,                                                               parang dinaanan ng bagyo!”

9. Ganito ang paliwanag sa akin ni Inay tungkol sa CIRCLE OF LIFE:                                                                          “Malandi kang bata ka, iniluwal kita sa mundong ito,                                                                      maari rin kitang alisin sa mundong ito.”

10. Kay Itay ako natuto kung ano ang BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION:
                          “Tumigil ka nga diyan! Huwag kang umarte na parang Nanay mo!”

11. Si Inay naman ang nagturo kung anong ibig sabihin ng GENETICS:
                            “Nagmana ka nga talaga sa ama mong walanghiya!”

12. Si Inay naman ang nagpaliwanag sa amin kung anong ibig sabihin ng ENVY :
                              “Maraming mga batang ulila sa magulang.
                             Di ba kayo nagpapasalamat at mayroon kayong magulang na tulad namin?”
 
13. Si Itay naman ang nagturo sa akin ng ANTICIPATION:
                             “Sige kang bata ka, hintayin mong makarating tayo sa bahay!”

14. At si Itay pa rin ang nagturo kay Kuya kung anong ibig sabihin ng RECEIVING: 
                              “Uupakan kita pagdating natin sa bahay!” 

15. At si Itay pa rin ang nagturo kay Kuya kung anong ibig sabihin ng DETERMINATION: 
                         “Hanapin mo yung pinahahanap ko sa ! iyo, pag di mo nahanap, makikita mo!”
 
16. Si Inay naman ang nagturo sa akin kung ano ang HUMOR:
                        “Kapag naputol yang mga paa mo ng pinaglalaruan mong lawnmower, wag na                                wag kang tatakbo sa akin at lulumpuhin kita!”

17. At ang pinakamahalaga sa lahat, natutunan ko kina Inay at Itay kung ano ang JUSTICE:
                             “Balang araw magkakaroon ka rin ng anak…tiyak magiging katulad mo at                                   magiging sakit din sa ulo!” 

 

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