Archive for September, 2013

Banaag is her name.

Banaag is her name.
September 25, 2013

Yup.  That is my mother’s name.  How it became Banaag, I don’t know. I wish I had the chance to ask my grandmother.  In the local Philippine language it translates to “seen”, “be seen”, or “to be seen”.  She is the matriarch of the family since she is the only living survivor of the clan.

I have written about the traditions in my country but with my mom, I could write a book about her.  She has led a colorful life; born in the island of Corregidor (the last bastion of American defense when General McArthur left the Philippines), raised by strict hard working parents (who never went to college), and went on to raise her own family.  That’s the short version.

But let me pick up at the present.  She is here with me now taking care of me especially during my chemo sessions.  Most of the time she prays when I go to my treatments and would only stop when I arrive home safe.  She was living in the Manila but when things turned bad for me in January, I knew she would like to be with me.  I held out for her.  I have shared many moment with her but this time around it is different.

For me, there is a sense of urgency of getting to know her more and share many good moments while I can.  At 81, she tells me the same stories I have heard many times over but I would still listen with new found appreciation.  I have even written it down for my recollection, and if given the chance I would like to go back to her birthplace, Corregidor Island.  Tour the place again with her.

An ordinary meal of fish and rice would trigger a moment when she was growing up and off she goes with her story.  I listen.  I laugh.  I listen again in earnest.  That was my moment with her.

Relationships and memories are a series snapshots in time that you can use to re-create your moments.  I have mine and will always cherish it no matter what.  My relationships with my mom, wife, family, and friends have new found intimacy that continue to shape me.  I believe it is for my own good; otherwise, I will not be given this opportunity to be here with you.


P.S.  Tomorrow is chemo day again, my fourth.  Got to earn my day for a chance of tomorrow.  Life is good.

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Round 2: One Note Samba

Round 2: One note samba
September 7, 2013


could still almost hear it in my head.  The mellow and soothing sound of the song ‘One note samba’.  It was the last song that I heard as I go off to ‘la…la…land’ of chemo dreams.

Before they give you the chemo drug, they load you up with the ‘happy cocktail’ of benadryl (to make you fall asleep) and zantac (to settle your stomach).  Then comes the chemo drugs.  I don’t remember much of it.  I normally listen to music to zone out the hospital noise and beeping of infusion pumps.  I wish I can isolate the sterile and distinctive smell of chemo.

The place has not changed much only the patients.  I remember the time I had a relapse and had to come back for more treatments (First day at school…chemo school dated January 14, 2010), it was surreal.  Now, the cancer center has become my second home.  This place keeps me grounded.  You see and meet patients in various stages of their struggle.

This time around I woke up from my dream and found Angela next to my chair.  She came with her mother and six-year old son, Ian.  Angela is also a patient of my doctor so we got to talk.  I learned that Angela has cervical cancer and her tumor is growing.  She was also given the ‘quality of life’ talk by her doctors but refused to give up.  I can relate to that.  What is there to lose when you are given a bad prognosis; you just keep on going.

So she keeps going for her young son.  This is the hardest part of this disease: finding peace that everything will be alright when you are gone.  It will be.

That was a week ago, August 29.  I am off the chemo pills too for the next 7-days and then I start again.  Now I have to take advantage of this break and do some running.

P.S.  I got a request to write about my mom.  Oh boy, don’t get me started on that.




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