Today, “September 25,” would have been my sister’s 32nd birthday. Unfortunately, God planned out her fate differently. She passed away more than a month ago of Acute Myloid Leukemia. It is so recent that the depth of the pain is still fresh. I don’t think it will ever be healed because losing a sister is just so unfathomable, surreal and you will just want to scream, unfair!” These questions will keep on going and going but reality bites as God only knows. My family and I are trying to move on but seeing ourselves days, weeks, month or years from now without her actually exist is like a cut in the heart with a knife. Losing her or any member of the family is something we never saw coming. Sigh! I feel like my energy is getting low, I suddenly feel heavy in my heart like I am about to cry anytime soon. Now, that I have mentioned it here I am crying as I speak. It is painful! unimaginable! unbearable!
Sure, we have to move on as it is what it is but, there would always be a moment when you will think about that person and realized, “she is actually gone, she no longer walk among us and we will never going to see her again!” Her smiles, her rounded face, the way she cracks jokes about her siblings, her dimples, her calling me “ate,” MY GOD!! her death doesn’t sink it yet. Will it ever be? I don’t think so.
My other sister took a pic of her few minutes before she passed away, even though she was in grave pain tried to look at the camera because she was told it will be shown to me. But up until now I couldn’t view that particular picture because I really can’t handle it.
So much memories to cry for and I don’t know which one I can discuss. If I do I might end up writing a book in trilogy even. Instead, I will talk about the HLA test or “Human Leukocyte Antigen”, that I underwent. I don’t intend to be a smart arse here so I will just cut right through its purpose. I had to take the test in order to see if my sister’s blood type and mine were compatible that way the doctors will have to declare that I can donate some of my blood to hers, in short it is a bone marrow transplant where they will get a blood cells inside my bones. She used to live in Kuwait by the way, so if our blood were matched I will have to go there to undergo the procedure. Still, we had to wait for the declaration from the specialist. A couple of days after. . . she passed away. The procedure never materialized. I don’t know if God meant it to happen. She knew that I went through the test and I was told that it had pleased her and felt hopeful. The HLA was expensive we had to raised it up in order to do that simple but pricey test. At the time we were facing a financial constraint. But it never happen. The procedure never reaches the first step. The thing was we never found out if our blood were matched because the doctors got pre-occupied in saving her life and afterwards it was useless to know the findings of my blood type. She is dead!
My mother and sister were with her in Kuwait. They stood by her from day one. My sister has now become a religious Muslim and she told me that it’s helping her to go through it. Imagine, she was there from the time they found out the medical diagnosis, series of chemotherapy and when she left her body. Their last conversation was seeing her in grave pain that she wanted to leave because she was tired. At first, she refused to let her give up, of course, she cried profusely and even told my sister to pull it through. But, upon seeing the excruciating pain in her sister’s eyes she whispered to her ear, “Opaw, if you want to leave go ahead I will let you go in peace so go and rest now!” Then that was the time my sister looked up, close her eyes and stop breathing. (Opaw was her a.k.a.).
I can still remember as if it was just yesterday when my sister called me up that Opaw had difficulty breathing the doctors had to give her oxygen to assist her. But after few hours I saw my sister in my vision, it was clear, her face was like when we were in Dubai, shoulder length, she was in grave pain. I started crying, sobbing and I thought my cry was at a very low decibel in sound because I was in my room. My brother went up he said that I was crying so loud. I saw my sister! I told my other sister to accept whatever was about to happen ( I said it with a heavy heart). I knew Opaw will not last long. I texted my relatives to ask forgiveness in her behalf. I just felt like I had to do it. I stayed up all night to wait for an update but when nature came kicked in my body could only handle so much ergo I went to sleep. As my soul left my body to wonder to lala land my sister was calling me to tell me that Opaw have left us. My brothers and nephew kept knocking on my door to tell me. I woke up irritated because my sleep was disturbed but they told me the sad news. I was still confused until my older sister called me up to say the same thing. I yelled at her! For some reason I don’t know and hang-up the phone. Then, I cried, cried and just cried. It happened. She bid me goodbye through my vision.
My father, whose nature as a man is to protect his family and the “Haligi ng tahanan” but couldn’t do anything to save his own daughter. Everyday he blames himself for being a failure as a father and that everything was his fault. How can you console a mourning father? Above all, it is my mother that I worry about. Sometimes you will be awaken by her cries in the middle of the night. Her pain is the kind that only a fellow mother can relate to. That no matter how many times we console her she will never cease from mourning for her child’s departure from this world. A child should bury her parents and not on the other way around.
As you can see in the images I posted, there is a picture when she was tiny, she was not a cry baby she didn’t complain no matter what you do to her (except don’t starve her and clean her, of course) she grew up like that as a person and never really had any issues. There is also a shot that four of us in Dubai in the late 90’s, the one with the camera reflection was my sister (happy days!). Another beautiful picture with long hair and a contact lenses. I think it was the time when she loved to glamour up, a shot with our beloved mother and the pic with a short hair it was after she survived her 5-month chemotherapy. We all thought that she will last for several years but God took her three (3) months after her last chemo.
I have an earlier blog here that I talked about my sweet little sister. She actually found out after her therapy she even wrote a comment. I never told her about it, though. Anyway, today is her birthday September 25. I wonder how will she celebrate her special day if she was alive?
She was the kindest among the siblings, my parents always say that she never raised her voice at them and never hurt their feelings, she used to save her allowance and managed to give something back to my mother, yes, always smart with the money ( the financial department or Bangko Central). I can go on and on talking about her but the thing is I only want to say is that. . . we are missing her so terribly!! The aching and longing will forever linger in our hearts.
“Happy Birthday my darling sister!” May Allah (swt) give you light in your grave and we hope to see you in paradise, God willing.
Going back to my point, this are no ordinary rattan sticks. I sleep beside it, I always look for it upon waking up, I hold it every now and then and I imagine the moves that I have just learned from my last session. It’s seems gradually becoming part of a person, “2 become one” according to the song of the Spice Girls (girly huh?”). But Master Cris never failed to tell us that there are people get to be consumed by it in a negative way. It’s a martial arts after all so it can really be deadly!! So if a person use it as opposed to what is intended it might lead to the wrong path. Say, when you have become so good there is a tendency that you will be aggressive towards other people and always wanted to look for trouble since you know how to defend yourself, tsk! tsk! very shallow and dangerous. Hence, you should learn first by heart, treated with utmost respect, take your time to enjoy whilst extracting its essence and, don’t ever let your ego control your mind and body. That is what we are always have been reminded of by our master.
In our training, I easily get to laugh even with a small crack of jokes but this is also not good. In training time you have to be in the zone. Meaning, practice the moves as if you are defending yourself in an actual danger. Release your deadly side. . . boom! boom! pow!! . . . However, once you are done and you are back to the reality-step back, inhale exhale, fire-hydrant your killer side- and compose yourself as you face the usual course of life. it doesn’t get hurt to be at your most humble self, does it. 🙂
I just resigned from my previous job and currently applying for another but in the meantime, I wanted to preoccupy my mind while waiting for another opportunity so I’ve tried engaging into different cardiovascular excercise. However, some were like moot-and-academic to me as I have tried it before or that I didn’t get the service commensurate to what I have paid for. Good thing a friend told me that there are dancing classes in Quezon City Memorial circle conducted by the local government as part of their health and wellness campaign. You only have to pay Php20.00 for the entrance fee, not bad at all. For a person who is in a tight budget I figured “why not!” At first, I was having a blast but when things got redundant and I have already memorized their steps and that I could actually anticipate the next moves . . . I got bored. My mind doesn’t find it challenging and so my body followed. As I couldn’t bear the predictable dancing class, I thought that I needed another kind of way to burn calories.
Usually, I drink coconut juice right after the said exercise to replenish my body with the natural electrolites the coconut has. Anyway, when I was on my way I saw two persons seemed to be performing martial arts and they were holding ratan sticks (yantok in Tagalog). I knew then it was Arnis but I was a common person who knew so little about it. I said ” Oh wow it’s Arnis!” (simple reaction) without realizing what I was about to unfold. I approached them to introduce myself and got to know their names, since it was first time to meet them just plainly Ate Joy and Cris. I started asking questions this and that I immediately have decided to give it a try for the sake of working out. Yes, my purpose was just to do something different apart from aerobics or running. What catches my attention was when they said that Lapu-Lapu used Arnis to defeat the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whoah! awesome! and that it was used by our Sultan or Datu ( royal leaders) from different tribes as a self-defense against bad elements and so as the sense of respect and honor associated with it. Cool ha?! I got even more excited because of the history I just learned so I didn’t hesitate and made a schedule for my first session. Ate Joy was graciously kind enough to lend me her sticks should I be able to make it. I was really thrilled to find out if I could pull it off. A few years ago, I was learning Muay Thai but I think it was expensive and it is difficult to deal with people that do not observe the art of professionalism and so I quit I couldn’t care less if I paid for the whole session (I was that pissed-off) Going back, first session, Bam!! it turned out that the more you get to learn about Arnis (FMA) the more you get drawn by it.The words are addicting and challenging- in a very thrilling way. Much to my surprised I enjoyed the training.
As the session continues, the man who teaches me is a Grand Master named Crisanto Pasindo, whose philosophy is to teach his Filipino fellowmen the art and history behind said sport. That it could be served as our identity and be globally known. Up until now he does’t cease to promote this Filipino treasure. While ate Joy is a Pediatrician, marathon adictus, a writer and among other things, wow!! There must be something about this Filipino martial arts that I have yet to find out why these people are into it. Master Cris, as we fondly call him later, was so generous that he gave history lessons at the same time. I have learned that Lakandula ( male) and Lakambini (female) are title for a warrior. . . Hmm! I think my history teacher missed out that part, though. I was having a blast because I had the best of both worlds: learning the Filipino Martial arts that were used by our Datu or Sultan with pride and honor in an open air with fresh oxygen coming from the trees and I get to meet respectable people as well.
After the physically and mentally challenging training I came home with an aching body. I could barely move but I told our master to buy me my own Ratan sticks for I will definitely come back to learn more. The picture I posted here is blurry for it is an indication that I have tons of things to learn but if you see how I hold the sticks- it is a sign that I am eager to grasp everything there is to know (given the chance) so I can be one of the Filipino people who will value and treasure what our ancestors have meticulously designed and developed as part of our cultural heritage. It could be our identity as a Filipino and hopefully will be known worldwide.
Join me as I start my quest of learning “Arnis,” ( Filipino Martial arts) and may you also be encouraged to do the same particularly for women and children. This is not just a plain stick-fighting for you can use this as a self-defense in everyday life against those who will take advantage of you. The sticks are just medium in learning the art. You can use different weapon or even just your hands. As much as I would love to discuss more I still know so little. So,I am yet to be an expert because I am still getting the hang of it. As soon as I get to learn this art it will be exciting to impart what I know to the rest of the world. I cannot wait!