Noun.The examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.
I’ve been going through a period of considerable flux. It’s forced me to reevaluate my entire life: my faith, my values, the relationships I have, the direction I’ve allowed my life to take, the decisions I’ve made and the decisions I’ve allowed people to make for me. And let me tell you, it was a painful and ugly process. It was hard to look in the mirror and not recognise the person staring back at me. How had I let myself get here?
I’ve had to face a lot of hard truths about myself. I’ve also had to have a lot counselling…something which I never actually thought I would find myself doing. But it has helped immensely. It has allowed me to see the positives in me that I needed to remember, so that I could rebuild and heal. I’m not saying it’s all rosy and happy-going now. It’s a process and I’m in no way even a third of the way through, not even a quarter there.
I’m going to have to start from scratch. I need to get to know myself again. Figure out what MY boundaries are, what my hard limits are, what my deal breakers are. I need to be comfortable with expressing how I feel, if I am hurt, if something feels uncomfortable, if something makes me feel disrespected, and what I need to feel seen, acknowledged, and considered. I need to stop apologising for expressing my feelings.
I know that I will need to redevelop my communication style, because I know that I have the unfortunate tendency to say what I think and I feel, without, necessarily, the required sensitivity filters. But one thing I am sure of, I no longer want to walk on eggshells in my own life. I refuse to apologise for speaking my mind and my heart.
It was the Easter bank holiday and I was at loose ends. I went to visit John Gibson’s Pandora (which was a thing I did whenever I was at the V&A because she was a character I could relate to…but reflections on that is probably another blog entry all together!).
I missed going to the V&A and just exploring. If my hip hadn’t started hurting, I’d have explored some more. I couldn’t move my left leg without feeling pain. So I thought I’d take myself off to pick up provisions before I couldn’t actually walk anywhere. I probably need some physio on my hip.
One of the things I “rediscovered” was a reading room at the top of one of the stairs near the Cast Gallery. It’s the National Art Library. It has one of the best collections of public reference materials on art and design. I do want to be able to sit at one of the desks just to be in the space. It’s meant to be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in May and the V & A hope to open more days in the summer. It’s on my list to visit!
The photo below was taken from the doorway, through one of the window panes. If this is what it looks like through the door, how amazing would it be to sit at one of those desks and just absorb the gorgeousness?
I say that I’m still floating about, but that life has gotten in the way and that I haven’t written in a while. I have been writing though. Just not online. Writing things down in my journal because I’ve been trying to make sense of what I’m going through.
It’s been a tough few months.
The last few weeks have been even more challenging. Some days better than others. I’m taking it a day at a time. I know things will get better. I just can’t see it right now. But it’s a step at a time. One foot in front of the other. Some days even the smile sticks.
I just have to believe that things will get better.
I’ve not been feeling the urge to write. So I’m thankful for the ability to take photos. It allows me to put in content in other ways. I think the writing muses are letting me adjust to the massive change in my life. I don’t think I’m in the right grief stage. I’m waiting for the despondency to hit me…right when I’m vulnerable and not expecting it.
My feelings are still spaghetti-in-bowl tangled and I think I need to sort things out in my head first so that it makes sense to me.
He left with a smile. And he made sure I knew that he heard me when I said “I love you Abba!”
My dearest miracle man is now healthy, whole, and singing his heart out in Heaven. I can just imagine the Hebrew conversations you’re having there.
My dearest Tatay, Dr Florencio-Isagani S. Medina, III, passed away today, 10 November, early in the morning Philippine time.
My Abba was a quiet man, but when he spoke he spoke with eloquence, and he spoke when it mattered. He was strict, very strict in fact, but he would spoil us too. He knew exactly when to do it. And when he did treat us, it was treating on a massive scale. He made sure we had everything we wanted. My Abba was a generous man. He was generous not only to his family and friends, he was generous with everything and with everyone – his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters, his in-laws, his friends, his neighbours, his colleagues at work, his students and even the man who sells us taho. He was kind because he knew what it was to live without, how it was to be hungry, and if he could help someone else not go through the pain, he would do what he could.
Abba, I feel so blessed to have been born into your family. I am so proud to be your daughter. I am happy that you are now free from the limitations of your body. But I will miss you so very much, more than I can ever say. Thank you for staying with us for 7 years. Thank you for enduring the difficulties your strokes brought on your body. You knew we needed you. You knew we weren’t ready to not have you with us. Thank you for everything. My heart is so full because you gave to us so beautifully and completely. You made sure we knew we were loved., completely, unconditionally and individually.
I love you forever Abbadabbadoo! I’ll see you later!
I’ve been asking myself existential blogging questions lately.
I haven’t blogged for a while. I actually thought that I hadn’t written anything for a year.
Although the last thing I actually wrote was the eulogy that I’d prepared for to celebrate the life of my dearest Tita (auntie in Filipino) Margie, who passed away on 27 May 2021. I’d forgotten about that. But just like everything that has happened in the last several months, everything feels like a lifetime ago. That’s another blog entry altogether!
A friend asked me if I still blogged (which is what actually brought about this existential reverie) and I answered and said I still had a blog but I hadn’t written in a very long time. They said they didn’t blog anymore because they felt that blogging was something that interesting people did. I truly wanted to splutter and object and say that we’re all interesting people! But of course, I didn’t.
That conversation does weigh heavily in my thoughts these days. Am I just fooling myself into thinking that I have something to say? Is anyone else interested in the mundane banality of my extraordinarily ordinary life?
I mean I have opinions. I have all these ideas of food to cook and bake. I’ve got all these things that I want to do. I have photographs to share. But is blogging still a relevant platform? I used to have a massive reach when I blogged on a different blog-hosting platform (which weirdly enough the name escapes me!). I had so many people read my blog entries, comment on my opinions and just interact.
I guess with the explosion of social media, blogging and microblogging platforms compete for the attention of the many people who consume content online. And if you’re someone so ordinary like me, you tend to get lost in the content posted by more prominent personalities.
Then it leads to the question – Why then do I post my prose online?
That question has made me think. I guess I still want to share my thoughts. I’m still of the opinion that if I share what I think, somehow, somewhere, someone else will read it and smile (or laugh) because they’ll think that they’re not alone, that someone else in the world is like them.
It’s been an odd 18 months, I’m sure you’ll all agree. But unlike other (wannabe) creatives, I’ve procrastinated and I’ve stayed away from blogging. I’m not quite sure why. I’ve been busy with my real-world job and just learning to navigate the new world of Covidlandia.
I have been crocheting a lot though. I finally managed to finish my 100 poppies for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal British Legion. I’ve had a few people buy them from me already and I am so thankful! Please be assured that the poppies have come from a Covid-free environment (I test often as I travel to and from work regularly). If anyone wants one, please let me know and I can send you details of how you can help me raise funds to donate to the RBL!
I’m going to try to blog more often. Even if it is just to rant or share a random thing. This person’s writing muscle needs to be exercised!
Sometimes we see the news on TV, feel engaged and properly outraged at the injustice, and then promptly forget about it. This has been true for the issue that is the backdrop of the Daughters of the Dragon.
Anything that mentions World War II instantly hooks me, in particular, especially if it relates to the Japanese attempt to annex Asia. My grandfather was a World War II veteran and he survived the Death March in the Philippines and being a POW in a Japanese prison camp. My grandmother experienced the fear and dread that a soldier’s wife felt when trying to learn about the fate of her soldier husband. My father and his older siblings were children during the war and I remember the stories that he used to tell me about the horrors that he witnessed as a child. He had particular opinions about the Japanese and Korean soldiers that were in the Philippines at the time. And I must admit, I had prejudices when I started reading the book.
The Daughters of the Dragon, while fictional, deals with the very harrowing reality that the Japanese Imperial Army did physically and emotionally damage a lot of women by forcing them to be sex slaves during the war. I remember seeing news clips of the Filipino comfort women demonstrating in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila when I still lived in the Philippines. At the time, I was young and almost completely unaware of the extent of damage that the Japanese Imperial Army was wreaking on the whole of Asia, let alone the experiences of other countries. My view was very myopic because it was trained on what I knew about the Japanese from my dad’s stories.
Without going into spoilers, this book provides you with insight into the thoughts of a young woman experiencing the rape and physical abuse that all those comfort women went through. And although it is an uncomfortable read because of the topic, I found William Andrews’ writing very insightful. The way he conveyed the thoughts and feelings of the central character Hong Jae-hee was quite discerning. I found myself feeling alternatively angry, fearful, uncharacteristically helpless and very, very sad. The narrative wasn’t emotional. It felt almost matter-of-fact, but despite that, it didn’t feel antiseptic or dispassionate. The realistic description of the surroundings, the people and the kind of interactions allowed almost a cinema-like view of how the story unfolded. I struggled to put the book down and would find myself being awake at 1AM trying to finish “just this chapter”.
I’ve bought the entire Dragon series after buying this book because I wanted to know what happened next! But, also, as a result, I’m reading more about the plight of these girls – children really, who I now know have come from the Philippines, Korea (where this book is set), Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan. It makes me want to know more. It makes me wonder about the scars that my grandfather and grandmother hid from their children and their grandchildren. It makes me realise that the cost of war, of imperialism is more than the amount in currencies that are reported.
Onto the next book! I’m reading The Dragon Queen next!
In Filipino, we have a word for “big sister” – it is ATE (ah-teh). In several Philippine dialects, it is Manang (mah-nahng). We also have other words for elder sister, according to whether they are eldest, second eldest, third eldest, and so on.
In my mom’s family, there is an Ate, a Ditse, a Sanse and a bunso. My Lolo Osiong and Lola Gening had 8 living children – 4 boys and 4 girls.
The Ate in my mom’s family was my Tita Margie. Tita Margie was, to me, the paragon of all Ate virtues. Without any exaggeration, I’ve always felt that Tita Margie epitomised the perfect “Ate”. She took care of her family. She took care of my Lolo and Lola. She took care of her siblings. She was at least 10 years older than the second eldest girl and she took her role as big sister seriously.
Mom often recalled that her Manang Margie made matching clothes for them, my Tita Migen, my Mom and my Tita Bing. They had pictures of the three of them wearing matching outfits that Tita Margie had sewn for them. Mama always said that Tita Margie always insisted on all of them being turned out well, that she would sew them outfits if they had something important to go to. She was the same with us. She would insist we dressed up properly and dressed appropriately.
Tita Margie started sewing when she was in high school and never really stopped. I remember she would sew clothes for my cousins and me. I remember all the clothes she sewed for me. Her sewing machine and sewing kit were a never-ending bag of surprises and she created magic with needle, thread, cloth and her Singer sewing machine. Once, my brother Aryeh asked for a plane-shaped soft toy and Tita Margie, even though she had never made a toy like that before, gamely took the challenge on. That toy is still at home, in Don Jose, somewhere. Tita Margie always made things to last.
Tita Margie was the constant in my mom’s family…at least to me she was. She was always there for everyone – for her brothers and sisters, for her nieces and nephews. She was the head cheerleader for her family. She was proud of her siblings and their achievements and I know that in her own way, she made sure that her siblings knew that. She let them shine and she helped them shine.
Tita Margie always wanted the best for her family. She was the same with her nieces and nephews. In a way that was uniquely Tita Margie, she encouraged all of us to be the best we could be. She supported us in whatever way she could. She cheered us on but at the same time, if she felt we were behaving in a manner that was less than acceptable, she would tell us, in no uncertain terms. She had rules and she had standards. But she had a way of calling out bad behaviour that only she could. We may not have felt it at the time, but in hindsight, everything she did, she did in love, because, she always wanted what was best for us.
Everything she did, she did because she loved us. Everything she did, she did for her family. Her love for her family was in everything she did, in every word, in every deed, in every stitch, in every treat, in every gift.
I cannot imagine Manila without Tita Margie. I cannot imagine not seeing her cheeky smile and hearing her witty conversation. But at the same time, I am relieved that she is no longer in pain, no longer uncomfortable, no longer struggling to move. I am thankful that she is now healthy and whole, with my Lolo and Lola, with my Uncle Magni, Uncle Franklin and Uncle Wawell. I am thankful that she is now with the Lord. I am thankfully reassured that when the time comes, I will be with her again.