Only an Honest Man

“An honest man’s the noblest work of God.” -Alexander Pope

After consulting with a big shop about tuning up my newly-acquired used car, they appraisal was: $2,000. I felt distressed, Really?  That was beside the fixes they accomplished in a few minutes, a couple hundred dollars already. I had to use my credit card. And I thought they had fixed that nerve-wracking screechy sound it made whenever it moved. So I spent a couple hundred bucks and not even confident that the car I was driving was really safe. I had never, ever spent that much money in any one sitting- -nor did I ever have that much. I took the list of fixes they said they would do, and looked at it. Maybe there was a way to get the same services for cheaper somewhere else. But I, a woman with a new driving license in a new country, and did not know anything about cars- -I could tell the way they talked to me, they thought I was completely ignorant. They were right. Although I was, I wasn’t completely foolish to not notice what they were up to. And I figured that any shop I go to will have the same impression of me and probably try to charge me much. Seriously, that amount was almost half the price of the car which I have had to pay by installment for 3 years!

I did search for other places and asked a neighbor for tips. I just was worried, in the USA you can’t go places without a car and I had a job I needed to go to everyday! And I didn’t mind the bus, but winter would kill me. Mechanics aplenty, but I needed a cheap shop I can afford. I asked the Lord, and received one of the most unexpected, beautiful answers I’ve ever received.

Go to this Samoan guy, my neighbor said. He described the place and I went there immediately. Unfortunately he wasn’t there, the shop was closed, but beside his shop was a line of many other shops. There was just one open.

‘Hello!’  I hollered to the older man as I walked out of the car. He was an affable person, and from his appearance I could tell he came not far from my country of origin. I told him about the details and he listened intently. He checked my car and listed all the parts I needed to buy. When I came back he wrote down some more parts that he already had and the corresponding amount for every fix in the list. All in all, including the parts and services I paid him: $250! He got nervous when he saw the total, he said he didn’t know it could amount to that much (he was trying to make it as cheap as possible because I had told him about my dilemma). Minus the parts, he barely charged me for the services.

I then realized, here was the Lord’s answer to my prayer: an HONEST man! An honest man, a noble man, how rare, how beautiful. I tried not to cry while he spoke. In this city, with thousands of people able to help, the Lord knew whom he could trust. That was not the end of what I learned about him; everytime I go for an oil change I looked forward to talking with him, because he has such a pleasant spirit. He has many severe trials in his life, with a son who passed away, and a sick wife and an older son who is mentally ill, both under constant medication for many years. Fixing cars is his second job; and although his financial hardships gave him all the excuse, if not to charge more, to at least not be very kind in his financial dealings, it seemed that none of those situations could squeeze his soul to be less than noble and gracious. And although always greased and tired, I could see that inside of him was something far cleaner and brighter. Today he exclaimed to me: “Why so many trials in my life!” I almost felt a tinge of envy when he said that. Because he does not know, how much the Lord trusts him. And I could see that his trials were given him because the Lord trusts him that much- -to be good no matter what. I had wondered often, when the Lord needed some honest soul, whether he would pick me as he did this man.

I had learned since then that there are errands only an honest man can do. And that in this city, and in the rest of the world, are many able, privileged and blessed: but the Lord’s true treasure is an honest soul!

(Note: This experience was written sometime 2009-11, but happened 2 years previous)

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snow.

realized now that snow isn’t too bad after all. why i hated it then… i think had more to do with the fact that i wasn’t where i wanted to be and i was stuck where snow was abundant… plus being in the cold really didn’t offer me too many choices. but how i love this place. oh how i’ve missed it!

temple square

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Waiting

What a year 2013 has been. Everything has been some form of waiting. Of all the years I have lived, this seems to be the year that required the most slowing down.

Although, I never thought there could be so much growth when there’s nothing of my plans that seems to be moving along. I feel like a wanderer walking in the middle of nowhere… and after all the praying and walking and praying and walking to get somewhere, spotted a house. It was brightly lit. Then the wanderer excitedly comes knocking on the door. “Hello?”… no answer. She pushes the door open, only to find out the house is empty. There is… NOTHING, NO ONE. And in this scene the wanderer asks, Should I stay or go? Should I keep moving? There might not be another house in the next hundred miles, if she had the strength to go that far.

So my life, this year of my life, feels like a series of no-answers. If this is failure I am not even sure. I just know I am not the same person I was at the beginning of the year. I must have grown.

Well, it is unfair to say I didn’t get any answers at all. Things are rather slow, or not the way I planned; and so it feels like Heaven were silent. I am not getting closer to where I suppose I would like to be, nor do I feel like I have left where I’m supposed to have left. Although I got no-answers, these were essentially answers: the answers were ‘NO’—not yet, not what I had hoped, not what I had expected. But then, now what?

But, no matter how long heaven closes its windows, I will still wait on my god.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isa 40:31

It is comforting to know, that though I know not how long I shall be waiting, that the Lord will renew my strength. And maybe then I will also understand what all this waiting had to have made me.

 

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In the corner of the sea

Feb 1, 2011 journal entry – Kaua’i, Hawaii

I went to the corner of the sea

And thither God spake to me:

Seest thou the waves of the shore?

I told it to come and no further.

Feelest thou the wind in thine hair?

I told it to blow but not overbear.

Beholdest thou the majesty of the sea?

Yet thou, my daughter, art worth more to me

And so God spake at the corner of the sea–

I hearkened; and felt his love for me.

I sat on this beach at the island of Kaua’i when I had this poem in my head. I can’t swim and terribly afraid of the water yet somehow felt secure that the waves won’t eat me up. I knew that God had the waters in control. I sat watching in awe the beauty and grandeur of the last waves hurling at the rocks and forming beautiful curls. This spot looked to me like the corner of the sea. I sat on the edge of the road looking down and feeling the soothing breeze which was cool but not biting. It was a perfect day.

corner of the sea

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childhood in the countryside

while on the 26th floor of a city condominium, i saw a little girl proudly riding her bike around the floor. she held her head up high and passed by me as if i should be envious of her new toy (you kinda know when kids think that way, don’t you?) i looked around as she passed by the walls–bare with nothing to look upon, while the doors of the units were all closed. there wasn’t any other kid in sight, no other sound but the faint squeaking of her little pink bike.

i thought, this is your playground?! when i was a kid i played outdoors. i smelled the earth, rolled on green grass, played with insects, felt mud on my feet and the wind in my hair, climbed trees and picked and ate fresh fruits. last weekend in a moment of nostalgia i had the opportunity to watch children doing just that…

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i’m used to mango trees with thick, tall trunks but the trees in this village have branches that are very low–ideal for little kids!

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bouncing…

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more bouncing…

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goat had a life of its own…

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run …

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nope i didn’t ask him to do that. all pictures taken here were undirected

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she has a funny gait like a duck…

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wonderful backdrop for a playground…

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my turn

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your turn…

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and finally the synchronized performance…

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one mo’ time!

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love the mountain…

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searching for caterpillars

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the boy in yellow shirt yelled, help! my slippers got stuck

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when he saw me he stuck his fishpole to the ground so that it’s still fishing then ran away (i guess he planned to come back instead of waiting there by my camera. he got conscious haha).

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more greens…

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chinese garters!


they were totally excited to have their pictures taken and quickly put up a show

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v.a.g.a.b.o.n.d.

always uncertain where to go, always.

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tsokolate eh

i was strolling along greenbelt 5 when i saw this clever resto: Restaurante Pia DAMASO, Subversive Filipino Cuisine.

although i only had the tsokolate eh and sisa’s dementia i could tell the cuisine is subversive indeed: these two are too sweet for my indio taste. (i’m guessing ibarra’s kiss which i was tempted to order, is too sweet also :p).  in noli me tangere, ‘tsokolate e’ (e for espresso) stands for thick chocolate while ‘tsokolate a’ (a for ‘agua’ or water) stands for the watered kind. i had the belgian version but maybe i should have had the tablea w/ goat’s milk. maybe next time. but the diablo is a curious one: thick chocolate with chilli pepper and spices. hmmm… spicy chocolate sounds intimidating. and it says ‘please allow 25 minutes’… that must be a special one.

the menu was impressive though, it had quite a variety and if you’re anyone familiar w/ the noli then you’d find reading the menu quite fun too. because i already had dinner before i got there, i only ordered dessert but next time i’ll try the dishes. only, the place is too cramped; i would only go there during times that are quite slow.

by the way, this is the only restaurant i’m aware of that gives an instant gift upon filling out their survey: i got a small to-go dessert and a postcard.

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luna’s little self-portrait

cute little portrait from luna. ‘cute’ probably isn’t appropriate for a master’s work, but it’s such a tiny thing too!

 

 

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inang bayan in rizal park

seems like the monument has been carelessly painted white…. and yet it didn’t fail to assert its majesty especially against the wide blue sky.  inang bayan (mother country) comforting a grieving son, made me stop and mourn for a moment–and then reflect gratefully on her hopefully unforgotten sacrifices. as i walked along the park surrounded by people enjoying freedom this afternoon, i asked what had to happen first and how long it would take, before such freedom can be attained. i am humbled by our many heroes, named and unnamed. someday i wish to meet and thank them.

it would be great to see more tributes like this especially in public places. i am hopeful.

p.s. i don’t know if this monument has a name, i didn’t find any (not that i looked for it)

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finding apong emilio

‘apong’ (ilokano) – title of respect used to refer to the elderly
 
 
it was like a family legend that everyone’s heard. a long time ago my great-grandfather emilio, they said, left the philippines for america. he migrated supposedly to ‘sunnyville’ in california, to be an apple-picker and no one has heard from him since.
  
last week for some reason i had typed his name in the ancestry.ca website, which holds records for canada. i found a name that matches his–bording the great ship ’empress of asia’ in 1931 from manila to land in victoria. a friend who has paid access to the website sent me in more details, and from it i learned that it was indeed my great-grandfather. as i wondered how or if he ever got to california, i searched on the newly-redesigned genealogy website of the LDS church. the new website includes more records than the old one, and this time got me some thing–the border crossings of when apong emilio reached the east coast to cross to vermont–and also listed his birthday (1897). i was excited, my research has gotten so far from nothing in so short a time, but, whatever happened to him in america?
 
like a mystery finally revealed by a guiding hand, i then came across the santa clara county’s death records online, which has his name and the location of his grave. i happened to be in the area as i’ve been visiting my mom, so i personally went to the clerk-recorder’s office and requested a death certificate–and there found out the sad truth.
 
part of apong emilio's death certificate 
apong emilio died 9 years after he came to america, by an illness, the same one that took my grandmother (his child). by all evidences it seemed he was alone during his death with no one who really knew him. i informed my mom and the same day, we visited his grave. it was unmarked–somewhere in a grassy lot that used to be a potter’s field, where the dead poor were buried. it came like a shock, but like any story desperate of an ending, or tears that were long overdue, it gave such a breath of relief. seventy-two long and lonely years after his death, apong emilio finally had his first family visitors to his grave.
 
apong emilio's grave is marked by the oval

apong emilio's grave is marked by the oval

i only remember his wife, apong opin, as a senile woman who wore traditional garb, who lived to the ripe old age of 89 years. she was only 30 when apong emilio boarded that great ship, leaving her to take care of three little children. what kind of agony she must have endured when her husband–only 34, left to never be heard of again? with children to care for, and so many more births that did not survive, and years upon years of waiting–or not, i cannot imagine the least of these tragedies. but at least i can lay these things to rest, until we shall all meet again. for now i will remain satisfied that we have found apong emilio at last.
 
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