“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Mahatma Gandhi
To me, there is no such thing as that “one and only” best day in my entire life. The best day can be a series. Can happen again and again, maybe with different characters, different location, different sequence of events. And one of those best days in my life—aside from eating alone with a heart that’s peaceful, aside from having quality conversation with a friend, a brother, or a stranger, aside from turning around an ugly situation into my own ganda moment, aside from laughing out loud regardless of my circumstances—one of the best days of my life is playing with Carla and Bea. My four-legged friends.
The little black and white one is Bea. Carla, the brown one, is our neighbor’s dog. Bea, well, she used to be my puppy who I had to give away to my neighbor because I had difficulty handling her. I got her when she was 6 weeks old and she playbites during her waking moment, can be really rough which was something I couldn’t handle (and astonished me) despite reading books. She was dependent on us, her human companions because she was a lone dog. And she really does need socializing because she’s an aggressive type. Good thing our neighbor welcomed her to their home. And this is how I got to meet their dog, Carla, who also liked Bea.
But I have a problem with letting go. Despite the short time that Bea was with us in our home, there was sort of a bond, an attachment between me and that puppy that formed which I only felt when she was in another home already, with a new family.
Because in those three days that she was with me, I took care of her. I killed those ticks and mites and fleas that I saw crawling, hiding in her soft and nice fur. I suffered lack of sleep checking on her from time to time. I wanted to assist her adjust in our home, her new home now that she was far away from the other pack of dogs, especially from her mommy dog. I fed her. I played with her. Then she’d put her head on my foot after playbiting with it. I was her pseudo-mommy. So I began to miss her when she was gone. I still wanted to look after her and monitor her progress. I believe she’s in a good family but still, I wanna check on her from time to time. I don’t like what happened to Cory, my first puppy, who got sick and died when I turned her over to my relative. From time to time I still remember Cory, voluntarily and involuntarily. It was really traumatic to me on what happened to Cory. But I have to move forward. Second time I had to give away another puppy, that’s Bea. The same relative who took Cory wanted Bea also but I refused. I gave Bea to our neighbor. I wanna do things differently this time for Bea. Good thing my neighbor allows me to visit Bea whenever I like it. Good thing my neighbor lets me take Bea to the vet for her series of deworming and 5-in-1 anti-virus shots, and bought medicine to kill her fleas.
Bea is now 10 weeks old and I’m happy over Bea’s improvements after one month of stay with her new family. She no longer resists the leash. She now loves licking my face. She’s behave now with her human family, she still loves to playbite but after watching some tips from YouTube, watching dog whisperer Cesar Millan of National Geographic, I’ve learned to deal with her playbites and now I enjoy it! And smiling.
Interestingly, my neighbor always tells me that Bea only becomes wild, excited, runs around, playbites, approaches everyone in the household, interacts, becomes energetic whenever I’m around. When I’m gone, she behaves. She’d just bite or tear apart slippers and things to cure her boredom. Or freely roams around exploring her environment with her paws and mouth. But she knows her boundaries. She doesn’t go far. She explores but just near and around her masters’ house. Interestingly also, she selects people or animals to be trusted. Bea doesn’t like children so she’d bark at them whenever she sees them but at a distance. She retreats if she doesn’t like you. She’d hide herself when there are a lot of people. She doesn’t like seeing a lot of people. She selects people who she wants to be closed with. My neighbor told me that when Bea saw this man who came for a visit who is also a neighbor (an informal settler and a confirmed thief), Bea was barking at him nonstop. She only stopped when that “bad” man left.
Our neighbor’s place is perfect for Bea because she has a dog and cat company aside from human company, perfect for her socialization, for her growth. And since I visit her often, I am also learning to socialize with Mingger the cat and Carla the dog.
I like Carla the dog very much because she likes Bea and treats her kind. She’s also kind with Mingger the cat. Of course, with me! Whenever I called out my neighbor’s name at night after my work, Carla would run towards me to greet me with a crying sound. She’d jump at me as if she wanted to hug me. But when she’s annoyed, she wouldn’t think twice of reprimanding super energetic and mischievous Bea by means of a growl or a bark. Carla and Bea are close. But when it comes to food matter, Carla can be greedy. She’d scare Bea sometimes and Bea would run away fast to save herself. So they have to be fed separately. And sometimes when Carla’s mad and Bea’s grabbed already by Carla’s mouth (Bea got wounded near the eye), Bea would roll over then show her belly to express that she means no harm. Thank God Bea’s smart. And Carla’s temper would simmer down and let go of Bea. However, when big dogs bark at Bea, Carla would go beside Bea to defend her.
By the way, that’s Carla’s “dog boyfriend.” Carla’s pregnant right now.
Amazingly, going to my neighbor’s house to check on Bea and at the same time visit Carla who I fell in love with, has also taught me about “socializing” with my neighbor. Before, I don’t befriend neighbors. I smile but I keep my distance. I don’t easily trust. I never had neighbor friends. Sometimes I would frown, make face when someone’s staring at me I sometimes wish I’m a man with a huge muscle, with tattoos, and vicious looking. Since I’m at my neighbor’s place and I would get knowledge about the “human behavior” in our neighborhood composed of homeowners and informal settlers because of those candid conversations with her, my trusted neighbor, I learned something. Knowing more makes a thing less mysterious and scary.
This is Mingger. He’s tough but soft. Tough because even when Bea’s barking at her aggressively, and in close proximity feeling threatened by his presence, he doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t care. And he doesn’t mind. He would just move on, ignore Bea’s barking, walk away slowly with chin up, with confidence. You can learn something from a cat like Mingger. Did I mention that Mingger is an adonis? He sired kittens in our neighborhood because these kittens look like him. And he would get into fights with other male cats in courting a female cat. Even when he’d get himself into trouble, a loner, he has an open personality that lets me touch him, carry him closely to me. He’s really nice. And he meows when he sees me now. He knows me already! But only because he thought I might be carrying food like I previously did.
I am fascinated by Carla, by Mingger. Because I grew up not having pets in our household I feel like a child interacting with them, seeing things for the first time. And to me, they’re not just pets or animals. They’re part of a family. They serve a good purpose to my neighbor’s family. Mingger kills rats, snakes, cockroaches. Carla is an efficient and effective guard dog. Of course, I will forever be fascinated by Bea, who I feel like she’s my child even when she’s with another family for about a month now.
I’m happy that I caught this moment on cam with Bea who is now (I keep repeating myself) two and a half months old, so behave when I carried her close to me. A rare thing because she’s a riot! Here, she didn’t resist me cuddling her. Thank you Bea for this wonderful moment. This is a wonderful gift on my birthday, November 22. I turned 36 today.
I don’t dance, can’t dance (ever!) but listening to her sing songs about love and heartbreak and everything in an optimistic beat made me groove to the music!
This month of November, as an advance birthday gift to myself, I bought Sarah Geronimo’s latest album “Perfectly Imperfect.” My spirit was already grabbed by the first two songs, “Perfectly Imperfect” and “Kilometro.” Too bad there wasn’t a lyric sheet enclosed with the CD so I had to listen hard the first few times I played the album.
In “Perfectly Imperfect,” it’s a song about listening to the beat of your own drum, about being yourself, flaws and all. “Kilometro” speaks about romantic love that’s devoted, an affection that is selfless despite all the hurts. I also like “Dulo” which got annoying repetitive lyrics but what really got me was its great tune, a happy one though it carries a sad message, this one line she only mentioned once amid the repetitions: “Ang dating walang hanggan, ngayon ay naging hanggang dito na lang.” Powerful line. Love it.
All the songs here got nice melodies, a mix of dance tunes and ballads. Music that is radio-friendly. Never mind the thin, childlike voice of Sarah in some of the songs. Never mind the mushy lyrics about love which I cannot relate at the moment, hehe (hey, I love the last song in the album). Sarah, I like her very much, I am captivated by her, and I enjoy her “Perfectly Imperfect” album which contains all-original songs.
Intruders climbed over to our house on 2 November, Sunday, when my family and I left home to visit our mother’s grave around noontime. The intruders probably thought no one’s left in the house.
Actually, the incident or incidents was/were quick. Since my nephew stays at the second floor and the stairs is just outside—it’s not connected inside the house from the ground floor—and as he shut the door then made that first steps, he—to his shock—saw a young boy who, needless to say, made an over the bakod to our territory. The intruder, upon seeing my nephew, ran away like the speed of a bullet.
My nephew couldn’t remember the face. All he knew was that the boy just lives nearby, in this small community of informal settlers which is walking distance from our house. And just when that’s the end of the story, while my nephew was in the bathroom, he heard footsteps either climbing up or down the stairs outside. My 17-year-old nephew quickly rinsed away the shampoo from his hair, quickly put a towel over his head, then went out to check. He didn’t see anyone. He was certain another intruder got in. Or could be the same intruder.
By the time I received this unfortunate news, it was already evening since my nephew just came from computer rental shop, his place of refuge to ease his boredom when he’s not studying. And hearing the “noise” and “festivity” and “videoke” happenings in that small community of informal settlers just nearby amid the quietness of the night, without even thinking or planning, I thought of going there and tell them about my concern as a homeowner. I walked there alone. I didn’t care if I’m gonna get mobbed, get killed. All I remember was that my body was shaking with fear and I just couldn’t let that day passed. I had to let them know. They know us anyway, especially my father. Who even helped some of these people.
So there I was. At their territory. I saw naked men and a few women seated closely together. There was singing and alcohol. I was waiting for somebody to ask why I’m there and when an old thin man looked me in the eye, I approached him and politely told him, “Kuya, there’s just something I need to say.” I told him a boy who lives in their area climbed over to our fence then suddenly, a young man approached me and was already in a defensive mode. He said there was indeed somebody who climbed our fence and it was his nephew and it was just an accident. They were playing and he, whose name is Alvin as I learned later and probably in his 20s or 30s, kicked the ball hard that went over our fence. So he “instructed” his nephew (the “intruder”) to climb our fence to get it. I don’t remember the chronological events of that confrontation but I remember hearing someone shout “There is no thief here in our place!”
Things went out of hand when I got emotional, raising my voice for what he did. When I asked if the only intention was to get the ball, how did it happen that my 17-year- old nephew saw the “intruder” exploring our corridor, where our laundry area is. He was denying that was his nephew, the intruder who climbed over our fence. This Alvin—who was domineering in reasoning out, not giving up to win—told me that maybe that was another kid. Maybe a kid from Relocation (where informal settlers from Metro Manila were relocated by former president Erap). When I told him in my stern, high pitched voice to never do that again, when he instructed his nephew to just climb over our fence, he just never stopped. He just kept on repeating in different variations that it was an accident, he kicked a ball hard that went over our fence.
When an older man approached and pulled me away from their territory and led me to the front of our house (whose name is Ayi and who turned out to be one of our barangay tanods and older brother of Alvin), I expressed to him my rage, that my family and I are living quietly in our subdivision, we don’t stop them have videoke ‘round the clock but please, don’t climb over to our fence just because a ball “accidentally” went over our bakod.
This Alvin from their territory went to me again, who came with companions with tattoos on their bodies. He exhibited his dominance over me again when he apologized but with some more excuses. He just never stopped. A girl stood beside me, from his camp, who turned out to be Alvin’s wife. And pregnant. I saw this little girl who turned out be Alvin’s daughter.
That night, knowing I got no allies, nobody understands, I just surrendered by asking the young man’s name. And that’s how I got to know that his name was Alvin. And the men with tattoos are also barangay tanods, who were also part of that “videoke” festivity. He also asked my name. I told him my first and last name since we’re known in our place anyway even though I don’t know them. Three times he asked my name and I said my first and last name three times also, I mean, what the hell! There were shaking of hands, I shook hands with one of the men with tattoos for diplomacy sake. This occurred on a Sunday night.
The following day, 3 November, I didn’t report for work. I went to barangay hall to report the incident, that confrontation with a young man named Alvin, even the past disturbances of intruders that trespassed to our house, with or without our presence. And this Alvin, since our confrontation, has become a “hero” to the children in the informal settlers area shouting his name cheerfully and repetitively as he disembarked from his motorcycle. Now I hate children. I learned from a neighbor, another informal settler, that this Alvin is very charismatic and seen as a “leader” in that small community of informal settlers.
When I shared that harrowing story to my friends and colleagues individually, one of them said I lost when I lose control of my emotions. Because when I raised my voice, this Alvin used it against me to bring me down, reprimanding me to not shout at him while he was pointing his finger at me, moving it quickly up and down at my face. I shouted at him to not point his finger at me. That was the time that men with tattoos refereed our argument. A colleague told me that the “ball accident” was just an alibi which is exactly my same sentiment. He said it was only right that I went to barangay hall to blotter or record the incident. But I should be careful next time. I have this other friend who didn’t judge me for what I did, she said it was hopeless dealing with those kind of people since they’re squatters. Suing them would be a waste of time. At the barangay hall, one of the staff there told me that there is already an ordinance that videoke is allowed only until 11PM. And should there be continued disturbance of this videoke, I could ask help from the barangay hall by going in person. Text or phone call is not accepted because there are “complainants” who only want to deceive. I was told to let the other tanods (not the tanods I told you about) handle them. But I have to travel far to get to our barangay hall.
I’d like to stress that not all informal settlers are bad people. There are just some people you know you just couldn’t trust just hearing the first sentence coming out from their mouths, regardless of whether they’re informal settlers or not. Oh, and I don’t regret “gatecrashing” their videoke festivity. My intention was to express my concern and rage. And that Alvin was showing his dominance over me because he knew I’m a girl and small. And he quickly took advantage of my weakness when I got emotional. Sometimes my nephew wondered what if my older brother was there who used to be part of a fraternity?