Saturday, June 19, 2010


It was the mid-eighties. We were a bunch of silly college students who all hail from the province, and were all passionate about discovering life in the Big City. Then one lazy weekend, Amy invited us to stay overnight at her place in Espana. We bought pizza and junk food, and we talked until the wee hours of the morning.

I still remember it vividly. It was almost dawn. The store across their house, was selling hot pan de sal already. We were lying on her bed.... still giggling and asking stupid questions about teenage crushes. Then out of nowhere came an announcement that was dropped on us like the twin sister of the Hiroshima bomb.

She sat there. Very composed and firm. She announced having retinitis pigmentosa... that she was going blind. Eden was silent. I was angry. I told her, ´ get second... third.. fourth... fifth opinion. I´m sure you will be cured.´

She smiled. There was no trace of anger or resentment. She said it was a progressive disease and there was no cure. She also said that if we truly were her good friends, we will help her find help to learn braille. I said, what? She smiled again, gently slapped my thigh and said for the second time, braille.

I was too proud to show my ignorance, so I didn't say anything. But the moment I arrived at the dormitory, I looked it up in the dictionary. There it was... braille: a system of writing and printing for blind or visually impaired people, in which varied arrangements of raised dots representing letters and numerals are identified by touch.

For months, years even, I struggled with the idea of Amy going blind. It was hard for me to picture her in my mind´s eye, as helpless, blind person. You see, among the three of us, Amy was the curious one. She always had brilliant ideas. More important, she was the matured one. We knew that she will go places.... that she will be Miss Big Time in no time... because for Amy, nothing is impossible.

Monday, June 7, 2010

stuffin' stuff.

"If everybody had the standard of living of the average European or American, we would probably need five new planets. But we've only got this one." These are the wise words of Jane Goodall, an English scientist who spent years observing the chimpanzees in the forest of Tanzania.

Five new planets. Imagine that! But she's absolutely right. Western people are fond of acquiring new stuff and collecting the old ones. One doesn´t have to look far.... my own garage is a classic example. It is stuffed with practically everything --- 95% of them are hand-me-downs from relatives and friends.

You see, I´m like my Ma. I collect garbage (things that no longer have value for others). Somehow, I find it difficult to throw anything that is still in good, working condition. I don't care if it doesn't look nice for as long as I can use it, I'd like to keep it. So old dressoirs, tables, fauteuils, bookcase, pans, even old electric heaters..... they all have a place in my garage!

I know that it's not about being attached to material wealth, because I'm not ... attached, that is. But when I look at an old dressoir for example, I don't see a furniture with an intricate design. I only see a beautiful piece of rose wood. And for me, it's a sin to throw such a beauty. My husband said that it will be recycled. But still, I don't have the heart to do it. I am hoping that someday, somehow... someone will have a place in her home for the old dressoir. But who am I kidding? This is Europe.

A very wise Ifugao once told me, `as long as man doesn´t realize that he can´t eat money, he will continue chopping down trees to have more money.´

It´s scary, I know. But how do we stop people from buying, acquiring, and collecting? Let's face it. We all work hard to have more money. Because if we have more money, we have more stuff. And if we have more stuff, we think we´ll be happier. We want to live like the average European or American.... surrounded by stuff. Contented and happy. Whatever that means.

So Dr. Goodall is an inspiration to me because her work helps us understand how to take better care of our Earth. Her passion and empathy is a proof that it is possible to make a positive difference for others. For indeed, "you can't live through a day without making an impact on the world. And we all have a choice about what sort of impact we will make."

Like her, I also want to make an impact.... a difference. Perhaps my approach is not really helping because right now, I am merely stuffing stuff! But....we´ll see.

I'm re-posting this... if only to remind myself not to buy more stuff!