Chronicles of Benia

STORIES.REFLECTIONS.PRAYERS

Dear May 2020,

I skipped writing in March and April, the height of quarantine in the Philippines.

But tonight, I will document a bit.

I flew to Manila on 3rd day of March. With a two-kilo luggage excess I was fined for the first time! It was a first time in 12 years of working overseas. But when I got boarded, my jaw dropped seeing the aircraft almost empty for a popular midnight flight.

When Wuhan a city of 14 million people went on lockdown by January of this year, something in me said that China is facing something serious. At the back of my mind was a thought that an outbreak was about to happen soon. Since then, I started to read news and blogs about the virus and Wuhan as much as I can.

At that point, more than curious I was fearful.

I am.

Really.

Fearful.

One time in my working life, I with a colleague isolated a compound from mouse brain. After, physical and chemical treatments the cell went through, I was so surprised to see that the cell was still alive! “How can it be able to withstand that?”, I told myself while I peeped into it through a microscope. Science definitely has answer but my soul was awed by its strength. It remained alive until we decided to pour hydrogen peroxide. Deprived of oxygen, it died.

Witnessing that few years earlier shaped my mind that the next kind of a deadly bomb is by the use of a cell. Tiny. Powerful. Unwavering.

With fear of an outbreak to happen soon, I flew to Manila. “If ever my hometown would go on lockdown, I will be home.” was something I bear in mind.

Why I want to be home? I have read stories that when the virus spread in Wuhan that while many left the city, a lot of Wuhan locals too went home to be with their family and faced the health crisis with their loved ones. China is known to be family – oriented. And I want to be home, just be home and together with them will face a crisis.

So, pandemia was declared by WHO and the world experienced quarantine this generation will never ever forget.

The Sacred Gift That I Have Been Given

While the entire world is under the threat of the virus and I have been under the law to stay home and buy things for my family, this gave me the opportunity to realise the depth and beauty of one gift that I have been given – the gift of freedom.

At this point of life, it includes the freedom to hug, freedom to go out and experience life, freedom from illness, freedom to choose time to leave home and be back, freedom to get physically close to another person, freedom to worship, freedom to express complaints and disgust, freedom to mourn, freedom to visit a patient, freedom from name-calling, freedom to inquire, freedom to work, freedom from lust, freedom from sins, freedom from violence, freedom from impunity and freedom from lies.

Quarantine made me see that freedom is the greatest gift of God to mankind.

All along I thought it was life. But then the existence of an illness caused by a new virus brought to a question “what is life without freedom?”

Then, I remembered the cell we experimented on few years back and realised freedom was the power I saw in that cell had. It was fighting for its life, for its freedom to exist and multiply, freedom to be the cell it was created to be.

Freedom was the power I witnessed and it never left me.

On this night of Pentecost Sunday, I recognise immeasurable honor to be given freedom. We celebrate Pentecost because Jesus died for us, set us to freedom and to be never under again under the yoke of slavery.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for Your gift, freedom.
——

This is all hair quarantine May photo with my furry housemate, Clarise, who is getting more comfy sleeping beside me.

01/06/2020

Almost a hundred days ago, I went to my hometown to visit my parents and planned to stay for a two weeks. I’ve been away from home for quite a while that two years ago I decided this 2020, I will be spending a good amount of time with my parents. Two weeks was what I originally planned.

But, five days after I alighted from the plane World Health Organization declared “pandemic” and the whole town went to be in quarantine. What originally planned as 14 days went to be longer. Today is my 89th day in my hometown.

I used up a portion of what I saved for this vacation but comfortably I still have enough and will still get by decently and happily. Not to mention I am in the room for free.

With the pandemic on, I am not sure when I can fly out again without the hassles of getting quarantined to my next destination, so, the other night I decided to stay longer… maybe half year to a year.

I started to look over opportunities after I assessed my heart that I am happy to be spending time with my folks. They have aged so much and I am just happy that I did their groceries, buying meds throughout this period of health crisis.

While, I looked out last night and thinking what’s in store for me in my hometown, I could not see a sun-shiny days ahead of me. But, the cry to stay with my parents are getting loud that I could see it in my smile and hear it in my laughter every time I have meal with them.

And while looking out far from today, and the vision isn’t so promising, I told myself I will just look forward to tomorrow. One day at a time on this time of uncertainty.

Thank you for reading. See you all tomorrow for the next journal entry.

My words to myself, always.

Girls, do you desire to be always beautiful?

Then, work on your inner beauty. Because like greatness, true beauty is developed from inside and out.

Here’s to a prayer for inner beauty.

Love and Beauty

Benia

11/02/2020

This morning I woke up with a message from my immediate boss sharing the message from our global Environment, Health and Safety advisory that staff who spent a vacation in China during the Lunar New Year are advised to work from home and be cleared form any symptoms of flu before returning physically to the office. The other day, I went to a drugstore and found no stock of facial surgical masks.
Yesterday earlier morning, I woke up with a message from a friend a that Kobe Bryant and his daughter are confirmed dead from a helicopter crash. Was that for real?
The other week, the prince I have been following since the day his parents got wed and during the ancient days when internet has not yet been discovered, left his royal title and announced to the whole wide platform of Instagram that he and his wife are pursuing to be “financial independent”. Prince renouncing title?
The other week, I woke out from a nap with a message from my sister back home relaying that the volcano where we go to frequently, every time I am in my parents’ house, spew heavy smokes and that 72 flights were cancelled on that day.
It’s still January and life has already thrown biggest situations the universe can ever experience. I don’t know what to say, or, I will just borrow the words of an author of an acclaimed short story,

“Stop the universe. I want to get off.”

Life is running so fast and I am not getting well with its ride. In the midst of fear, I realized twenty things from all four big events happened in the recent days:

1. Heroes are born during the odd times. We love heroes and so we must welcome challenging times.
2. Life is short. Spend it excellently.

3. Life is fragile. Let it be under one higher and mightier power.
4. There is a holy and sacred reason why wild animals are not part of the mainstream life. So, let them be far and welcome the diversity.
5. Not all adorable, tall and athletic men like to be prince. One wishes to be a commoner.
6. Legends are never made overnight. It takes 20 years or so and a whole dose of hardwork and perseverance.
7. Travel insurance is worth buying regardless how long the travel is. Period.
8. Mask is a must. Keep always a box.
9. Blessed are the fathers who can hold their child’s hand up to the last breathing moments of their child’s life.
10. Blessed are those who left earth while wearing shoes of a supportive and guiding parent.
11. Blessed are those who experienced ashfall and continue to rise from the ashes.
12. Blessed are the people who looked and cared after victims while they are also at high risk.
13. Blessed are the people who spent their wisdom and skills to protect the people.
14. Blessed are the courageous for courage is infectious.
15. Legends are those who never committed failures, but those who accepts their mistakes and change their ways.
16.  One of the biggest legacies that can be passed-on on to child is neither money not power. Neither, fame nor influence, but the ability to smile during trying times.
17. Blessed are the passionate for they shall bring glory to God.
18. I have been writing this write up since January 28th . It’s already first of February and I still am stuck at number 17. I guess sometimes life is like that you thought for 20 but you only have until 17 and that it is completely OK.
19. Virus does not discriminate and so should the possible carriers.
20. Look – out  for each other. After all, we need one another to survive.

01/02/2020

With all the hills and valleys of things that happened this first month of this year, I would like to remember that early morning when I woke up to learn that Kobe died from a helicopter crash with his daughter.

I am born and raised in Manila and every corner of the city has a basketball ring installed whether this is in a regular basketball court or just hanging on an electric post (tree). This makes everyone a basketball fan, myself included as my parents house is just few steps away from the basketball court.

I may not have seen Kobe in person but the fact that he belongs to my generation and that he is the god of basketball game back home, he becomes like a mandatory idol. So, his death moved something within.

The death of Kobe brought again awareness to me that this time I have here on earth is numbered. It brought me back once again to that period of my life where I kept coming back to confession as my biggest regret in life would be losing heaven.

Before going to a big surgery 7 years ago I went to a priest to have the Sacrament of Healing. The sacrament of healing is the last sacrament given to a Catholic. I told the priest that I don’t want to lose heaven after I completed my journey here on earth and the priest said, “You don’t go to heaven by accident. You get to heaven because you live your life for it.”

As I bid farewell to January 2020, I bid farewell to a person who lives with excellence and passion that up to the last moments of his book of life remained inspiring individual to a history.

Farewell legend.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. “

Psalm 23:4
——

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the bushfire, it only means we have wildlife and forrest. Thank you for the spewing smokes of Taal, it united the nation. Thank you for Mheg-xit, it only means not all princesses and princes are found in the palace. There are two who want to be financially independent. Thank you for wuhan virus, it reminded us to respect wildlife and lower creatures.

Thank you Lord for Kobe, he made a lot of people believed in their own capabilities. Please embrace his soul and the eight others. Please shine Your light to all souls of death caused by Wuhan virus.

With all these happenings, I am reminded that I am just an earthling out from ashes. You are God and You are mighty. Thus, in You I surrender my future.

Thank you for the gift of hope.

01/02/2020

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