Passing Unnoticed

***Before you go on reading…kindly take note that SOME  OF THE CONVERSATIONS PARTICULARLY IN SCRIPT FORM are not the exact details that transpired… it is written down based on how far my memory can reconstruct the event***

At the height of bickering over the defective and destructive system of opening of major water dams that had caused extensive flooding in the Philippines, I kept my fingers crossed… not that I am guilty of opening its gateways but like the water in the dam my meetings and working engagements started to swell up and are about to reach its critical level.  For the month of November I am already anticipating the following event to come:

1)      filling in for work in the laboratory seven times a week while the Laboratory Technician is on a maternity leave;

2)      flying to Palawan for a work project (or a blind date?) arranged by Jong (Jesus Ong)    

3)      start of my classes in Master in Management major in Hotel and Restaurant Management

4)      start of printing business with my sister

5)      and a tourguide to the in laws of my brother to Pueblo por la Playa

Hence, Carmen’s announcement of her coming and calling of a get-together brought my crossed fingers to turn blue. 

The Core-respondents

Monday, 19th of October 2009, I had my thumb set out to do its routine— pressed onto the WAP button that automatically launch my mobile phone to connect to Mini Opera browser—the fastest and most efficient way I can browse the net through cellular phone.  In no time did my 3 x 3 mm screen flashed to my yahoo mail.  Soon, I scrolled down the lists of mails to check for relevant ones.  Among the numerous letters, I found this entry: carmen cordis [4amtust90] get together.  Immediately, I clicked on it and the message box unfolds:

Hi Classmates!

 I am coming home this Nov. 9 to visit my mom for 2 weeks lang.  Sa Nov. 11 Wed. around 7pm, my family will be at Jollibee (Scout Borromeo corner Quezon Ave.) by the National bookstore. Parang belated “birthday party” para sa anak kong bunso. (they like Jollibee so my sister suggested to give him a party there).

Anyway, in case any of you kababayan wanna come and join with your family/kids all are welcome! Hopefully, some of you can come…even the unattached and no kids yet…  and no gifts required just your pretty faces are enough…

Just email me back if you are available guys…would love to catch up face to face (not just by facebook!).

See you soon!!

Carmen aka druggy aka chi

PS…I know so korny naman sa Jollibee…but hey maybe we can plan for Thai food before I leave if you guys prefer that.

As expected, this mail is followed by an acknowledgement reply from the group owner, St. K (Karl Zafra), spiced up with a few teasing:

wow…carmen is coming over. pls no twang…nahirapan na kami kay joyf then (joke joke)….

a children’s party at night sounds different…..anything goes….

jollibee or tabi tabi doesnt really matter….its the company. mas cool nga kung sa UST canteen sa main o kaya sa lopez pa….hahahaha

nova pls remind me on nov 11….memory gap …para group text na rin

joyR pakita ka na by then….tibay ng jatci ang pinaguusapan dito

si doc alvin..lapit lang yun.

catch you then. have a safe trip.

 I shook to loose my crossed fingers for a stress releasing trampoline jump on a silicon rubber keyboard.  Eventually, such bouncing left an imprint that was then  posted:

HANEP!!! Patindi ng patindi ang kaganapan sa buhay ng 4amtust90…
carmen, i will be looking forward to seeing you with jollibee—ala pa akong
picture sa kanya e—hehehe… novmber 11 is fine, wag lang po sana matapat sa
launching nung kay jong, otherwise will i drop the blind date?… hmmm…
mahirap hirap na pala-isipan yun…—nova

To these, Jong reacted “emoticonally”

(Sayang Nov 11 is a wednesday. Kung weekend lang sna attend rin ako. magvolunteer sana ako maging magician  para makatipid si Druggy ng expenses . Tsetse… Can not invite Chi to Puerto Princesa, Palawan yet kc my barongbarong is still under finishing touches by Tribu Taong Bato . Sayang US dollars pa nman ang dala .

Spiralcurls naman, hwag mong idrop ang blind date! set ko ang sched ng mga goons kong kikidnap kay St. K. Sya ang chaperon con date mo! kc parang denidescribe nya ang sarili nya sa mga characteristics na type mo . To save the trouble of finding one to qualify. sya nalang ang pinili ko…. kaso d n nga pala blind date ito kc u knw who he is na… . erase erase erase….)

The rest of the lurking members of 4amtust90 yahoo group simply laugh privately in their own room/offices at their own time (aminin….), leaving us clueless of their attendance to the upcoming event.  Nevertheless, they still have thirty three days to find ways to insert Jollibee date in their schedules.  For the meantime, the e-group had become busy with birthday greetings and new found classmate.

Roll call

The topic of  Jollibee get-together died down for a while until November 9, when Carmen mentioned it again to invite the newly added member RJ (Robert John David) to the upcoming November 11 get-together.  RJ however, seemed to be at a loss still and could no longer go back to previous messages that he begged to be updated regarding the details.  Karl immediately responded with complete roll call of each and a reminder to me of the task of getting the attendance.  In no time did I started sending SMS to all and the following were the responses I got:

Gina Macabadbad, 12:41:43 PM- “HI! Sori I can not come. Am here in cagayan. Pls give my regards 2 all. Tnx!

Emily Carbonell Dy12:42:14 PM – “Pasensya na di ako makago. Tnx”

Jesus Ong 1:15:55 PM – “Sorry cnt come. But thanks 4 d invite. Enjoy”

Leah Ilada-Vasquez 3:37:43 PM— Hi novs bday din ng mother in law ko. Try ko habol. Tnx.

The rest remained silent, except for Rowena Lim, whose message I accidentally deleted.

By 3:07 PM of the same date, prior to receiving Leah and Rowena’s message I then reported the result by posting this message to our yahoo group:

“has sent reminders via mobile phone… so far those who replied are sure not coming… huhuhu”

Karl Zafra who is very much a Kuya replied:

            “have faith my friend”

Although based in USA, Joy F has  following remarks:

Just think this way, more for you to eat.  Good Luck, looks like Druggy (Carmen Cordis) has no acclimation period. Have fun guys.

Two days after, Nov. 11, 9:26 AM Carmen replied:

“it ok… understandable it is middle of the week night pa… anyway I really appreciate whoever can come…”

The Last Call

I could only be so thankful that none of my other engagements overlapped with Carmen’s get-together; the tour-guide project took place two days ahead, my laboratory technician has not given birth yet, Jong has not given the go signal to Palawan, my classes in masteral has not started, and the printing business errands are at a very flexible time.  My schedule however was quite loaded.  Hence, I was still finishing up work in the morning of November 11, 2009.  By 12:00PM, I finally decided to drop everything and took a bus ride to Manila.  I was so tired that I dozed off immediately upon boarding until a message tone woke me up…  upon opening the mail I read:

“Hi friend.  Carmen. Our classmate whom we haven’t seen for so long will be at jollibee quezon ave near national around 7.  Hope you can make it.  Are you in or out?  Hehe tara na.  Daan kayo mamaya pls.  Karl zafra at your service. Tnx”

Then I fell back to slumber.  In a little while at around 3:45 PM, the condoctor barked “LRT!”  As I wait for the bus to park at the terminal, I scoop out for my cellular phone and found two missed call and one message.  Upon flipping open the unit, I read: “Karl here.”  The bus conductor however signaled to the passengers to hurry up, so in a swift, I  text back saying: “I am about to go down the bus, will call you later.”  Upon reaching home, I fulfilled the promised call, to which Karl inquired for any attendees… I on the otherhand have no name to add to his list.  Nevertheless, the few that he has is good enough as welcome committee.

A Date with the Happy Bee

By 6:00 PM, after almost a two hour of rest, I went out of the house and took the LRT, MRT and Taxi ride to Jollibee, Quezon Ave.  Upon reaching the place and as I climb up the stairs to the function room, I could only recall an amusing photo posted in facebook regarding the popularity of a Filipino origin food chain which I now  post below…

To my mind, this get-together indeed attest to that… even the half Moroccans, half Filipino, USA born kids learn to love the happy bee. 

Soon I found myself standing before the entrance of a room filled with people I do not know.  In a few seconds, Karl Zafra popped out from the washroom.  We then entered the party   room.  Quickly did Carmen spotted us and had us seated at the right front table.  As soon as Carmen introduced her sons to us, in no time did Karl showed his prowess with kids.,, and indeed, it did not take much time for Karl to cease to be a stranger to Yousef and Adam.  They got to familiar enough, that Adam gladly accepts the extra piece of chicken joy from Karl, making a total of three pieces for him to devour.  Carmen, cannot but be skeptical of the eating capacity of her son.  Yet, to her surprise, Adam finished it all to the last bone, better than Piolo Pascual’s Max Chicken advertisement.  It only leave me fascinated not at his ability to stuff it all in his belly but at the extent of likeness to such a Filipino prepared food.  Such wonderment however got interrupted with the arrival of Weng (Rowena Lim).  She explained that she needed to wait for the lapse of color coding time for her to hit the road and get to the event.  Fast forward, Jollibee finally came in dancing… kids and adults started to cheer.  I went around to take a snap shot of Jollibee but my camera is not high-tech enough to match up with the fast movement of the buzzing bee giving me blurred output.  So, I stopped and be resigned to simply watch in amazement to his great talent for dancing. After a few showdown, Jollibee started to pull out guest to dance.  Weng and I did not escape his attention,but Jollibee was not able to successfully convince us to dance along.  To my mind however, had the crowd been purely composed of 4amt90, I would gladly dance the “Nobody”.  Good thing Carmen is so game, putting an end to tag-o-war game.  After the dance, Carmen joined us for a sneak conversation.  She explained to us the meaning of the names beyond Yousef and Adam. Both names were biblical in origin: Yousef is an Arabic name for Joseph and Adam for the name of the first created human being.  Looking at the boys, I told  Carmen that I feel like I am watching Kite Runner.  To this Carmen came to realize that she failed to bring along the book (such she promised since 2008 and was a discussion in a message board for two days).  Then she mentioned how she learned to cook Morocan food.  If my memory serves me right, she relayed that for a week she has to live with her sister in law to learn Morocan cuisine.  Then she go on narrating how they go about the shifting in taking care of kids.  Much like most working couples with kids living in USA, husband and wife would meet at the parking lot to pass the kids.  For this reason, Carmen is always late for work.  Then she coolly added, that a classmate of ours who initially had no plan of having a child is now on a family way and is close to giving birth (her identity is a guessing game… you may place your bet through 4amtust90 e-group… the winner will be the ninong or ninang… lol).  At this point of the conversation, Joy Ramos came accompanied by her husband Hector.  Since the couple seemed to arrived at the tail end of the program, Jollibee must have desired to make the most of what is left for them that he quickly pulled Hector to his side for a dance.  Hector was so game enough to joyfully comply with Jollibee’s invitation, while I cheerfully took a video of this few seconds of fun dance with Jollibee.  (Click this link to view the video )

After the dancing, Hector joined Joy for Chicken Joy dinner, while Jollibee signaled to bring the birthday cake forward for blowing of candle. 

When all is set, we all sang the birthday song and so the candle light was blown. 

Fast forward, Jollibee bid his farewell. 

With Jollibee exiting the place, the guests started to pack up.  We however opted to stay for a while because Karl is still in distress over the little girl who took away the Jollibee mini crayon from his hand.  Karl had skillfully hide this crayon within his grasp, but the little girl perhaps saw him doing so, hence she walked towards him and asked if she could take the crayon home.  It would be preposterous for an adult to deny this little girl this tiny treat, hence, despite his unwillingness to let go, he gave in to the girl’s request.  But it didn’t end there, Karl’s eye started to scan around the place hoping to find a set of crayon that was left behind.  Such burning desire within Karl for Jollibee freebees, were very much felt by us that the Jollibee wall clock hanging on the wall did not even escape our taunting until this ribbing extended even to the Jollibee staff.  Joy R. teased the Jollibee personnel that Karl is Korean and would like to bring Jollibee freebees to his country.  Karl’s look maybe was so convincing that the staff did not only gave crayons but two to three more items that slipped my eyes except for the mp3 toy that Karl started to brag about. 

Contented and happy over these, we now concluded our stay in Jollibee to go to another venue.  As we depart, I wonder over extreme fondness of Karl over Jollibee freebees.  These wonderment spark up my Kris Aquino mind to run… like SNN (showbiz news TV program in the Philippines hosted by Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda) I arrived at the following for a poll:

 What would best explain Karl’s extreme fondness over Jollibee freebees:

  1. Could it be that Karl is far too advance in terms of rate of maturity that now he is nearly at the border of second childhood? Or
  2. Is Karl hiding a Karl Jr.?  (which also runs in congruence to one incident when Karl asked me for contact number of  MT90 batchmate who is now an OB)
  3. Being the eldest in the family, Karl must have been pressed to grow too fast that he missed is childhood and now he is trying to catch up.

In regards to this I hereby announce that the poll is now open for voting.  Pick your best bet answer and cast your vote in the comment slot below.  Voting is open to all MT90 batchmate, but for section A it is compulsory and obligatory… those who abstain will host/finance the Christmas get-together…(Peace Karl ;-p).

The Buzz

Upon getting out to the street of Quezon Ave., it was a consensus that we go to Starbucks in a carpool, except for Joy R. and Hector.  For this, Weng’s car was preferred.  When we finally found the right location of Starbucks West Ave., we all get in and waited for Joy and Hector before we place our order.  As soon as Joy and Hector arrived, we ordered our drink and Carmen foot the bill (Was I right? Basta ininum ko na lang yung dumating na drink sa harap ko e…. teeheehee).  Then “The Buzz” (showbiz talkshow in Philippines) set to action…  Karl as Boy Abunda and Joy R. as Kris Aquino, Rowena L. as Ruffa Gutierez, Nova Alacantara  as Pamela Baranda, Carmen Cordiz as the guest celebrity Gretchen Baretto and Hector as the only audience (hehehe)…


First Question (di ko ma-alala particular person):  Buti dina sumama son mo… how did you do it?

Carmen:  When my son asked what we are going to do in Starbucks, I answered all we are going to do is talk, talk and talk.

Nova: Smart answer (to my thinking, she is much like my sister who is a psychologist)

Second Question):  How did you and your husband meet?

Carmen:  What do you want to know, the truth version or what I tell my kids?

Everybody: (laughing out laud)

Nova: (jolted to the edge of her seat) ibang klase ah

Joy: (eye popping out) Ay may ganun pa pala.

Karl:  (eye sinking into a tiny slit) So, magkakaiba pa pala

            Rowena: (demurely laughing) teeheehee

            Hector: (smile lang)

            Third Question: So what is the true version?

Carmen:  Together with our other girl batchmates a guy pulled me out for a dance and  then we started dating… thats it… That is why I don’t want to tell my kids the true version because it is a story that is too fantastic.  It normally happens only in the movies and I don’t want them to get the impression that it is a usual thing.

Karl: hmmm… ayaw mo lang tawagin ka ng anak mong bar girl

Everybody: (lol)

Nova:  So what you tell your kids?

Carmen:  We met at the party.

Everybody: Ahhh….

            Fift Question:  You are practicing Med. Tech. right?

Carmen:  Yes, currently am working in blood chemistry department but am now training to move to microbiology.

Then the conversation shifted to the blind date issue.  As a recap, Jong claimed to have arranged a blind date for me on the occasion of the launching of his father’s Hotel.  Such became a hot topic in our e-group for a few days.  Now that we had come face to face I gave a more definitive conclusion to clarify some matters: “the blind date refers not to the person he is matching me to but the ‘date’ (day, month and year) when Jong is going to call me to fly to Palawan to assess their hotel personnel.”  Then the next question was why “sleeptalker” as my e-mail name?  I responded that the answer is very shallow “Bloggers (fyi for non techie, Blog is a short term derived from word Web log) give themselves a pen name to their journals.  For some who write spontaneously without thinking of structure and grammar, they would put a name that would best describe it.  I choose sleeptalker because what normally comes out of sleep talking are dreams that doesn’t make any sense… so if I started writing something that does not make sense… then please excuse me am sleeptalking.”  With these, I guess I have put the curious minds of 4amtust90 to rest.

 Fast forward, we then shifted to taking photo of a group as souvenir.  Thanks to Hector,  once more his dexterity in photography, served as a big help for a printed image of us to share to the rest.  Finally our goodbyes… but the Filipino ways always have pahabol. After getting out of Starbucks door, we hang around a little bit more at the veranda for final chat.  It was the time we started talking about how Ondoy affected Ramos-Igarta residence.  Joy showed us the video of her neighbor swimming along their flooded road to get to the market to buy food.  Then Joy concluded that, the Ondoy phenomenon is a moment when it is hammered down that  all those things we invested on are really merely material and they can perish in a snap.  To that we call it a night.

Locked Out Pondering

One big mistake I did that day is I fail to get the mobile phone number of my brother’s househelp.  So reaching home, the ringing of doorbells got muffled through her closed door.  I tried calling the landline but that too ended up useless.  Hence, I gave up ringing in consideration to my nephew and niece who needed much sleep.  I then opted to pass the time at the computer café to do research for my write up.

As I research through the net, I am guided by this profound Theological truth found in the first part of the Sacred Scripture… that we are created in the image and likeness of God.  This truth has been the soul of my writing… searching for that goodness (image and likeness of  God) in a person and the result gives me much pleasure.  Thus, in every get-together I have taken on the habit of looking for that seed within the very core of our being. 

Writing for Carmen however is not easy… not that she is so bad but that her personality  always escapes the limelight.  Indeed, when I browsed over the database of 4amtust90, I found written that she had to sew the hem and handwash the sotana we used as costumes for angels at the drama fest.  Rewinding the memory reel… it is only now that it dawn on me that while much of her barkada took the spot light as sultry night girls in that play she is behind the stage making sure that our angels goes to the show immaculately white. Twenty years later, hearing the story of her habitual tardiness as a result of switching routine, all the more did it confirm her preference to hide and disappear— hide her heroism and disappear from the list of most punctual employees.  Yet one might think that her telling of her own story seemed to contradict this… but to my thinking, with what she narrated a lot was remained unsaid.  It  only needs a deeper digging to get to realize the heroism that lies beneath the then and now…  Putting on her shoes, I could only imagine the pains she got after several needle pricks while sewing the five huge fabric of the blanket like sotanas that was too big for our little angels in the play.  Then, the scratches she got from handwashing those big sotanas in order to return them to the seminary in very good condition as if they were never worn.  Going to the now, isn’t it embarrassing to be known at work as a frequent late comer?  Yet, all these she bravely accepts in order to make life easier for the others.  I now then take delight in seeing that the seed of the image and likeness of God that was planted within her is that heroism that passes unnoticed.

P  H  O   T  O      G  A  L  E  R  Y

You may click on each photo for  better view

5 Responses to “Passing Unnoticed”

  1. Jong Says:

    Wow! this s a very lively humorous story with a deeeeep reflection from the heart! Excellent & Witty indeed!


  2. Carmen Says:

    Finally got time to read your insightful writing. All I can say is thank you !!


  3. Jong Says:

    poll answer B


  4. Carmen Says:

    I can’t believe how time flies. Love looking at these pics…still look younger and and thinner (talking abt me).


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