Monday, November 03, 2003

On Saturday my maternal relatives and I went to Cavite, where my grandfather is buried. I got stuck in the van with all the old people: my parents, my mom's siblings and/or their wives, two kids, and my grandmother. And it's interesting to be stuck in a situation like that for 2 hours. It's not my idea of a good time, but I can't say that I regret these experiences because sometimes I need to be reminded of how older people speak, especially with the generation gap. They tend to be slower, and are amused at the smallest things. It was also enjoyable for me seeing them rediscover old (to me) jokes through text messaging. You know, those jokes like "What do you call a scary vagina? Spuki." Some of them I haven't thought of since, uh, college.

During these kinds of family outings I always have a book, in the usually likely event that it'll be dead boring. If I'm not reading, I'm just messing around with some of my younger cousins, exchanging jokes, etc. We were ribbing my 13-year-old cousin who's on Friendster, because it says he's looking for a "serious relationship." Haha.

I also found out that Mars Ravelo is buried in the same graveyard as my lolo. My mom showed me.

Sunday was a nightmare. We were to go to Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, where my paternal grandparents are buried. We left the house at around 3, went to Max's where we'd meet my dad. He was 3 hours late because of the traffic. So we left at around 7PM, and in the middle of horrible traffic, got a flat. We changed the tire, I got a cut that I didn't notice until it was bleeding. What should've been a short distance was another 40 minutes of traffic horror. Finding parking inside wasn't as difficult as we'd expected but we had to drive a long way around because of some traffic scheme to keep vehicles moving. I can see the sense of it, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating, since our destination was pretty near the gate and we had to go all around the park.

I'm frustrated with a number of things: there are no clear signs to get to the comfort room. Every staff member I ask gives a confused answer. I find it myself. None of the lights are on, so I'm walking in the darkness when there aren't any lit candles. When I get there the women's is closed and so there's a long line of women outside the men's. When I get in there's no running water, so the trek was useless because I wanted to wash my cut. I walk back to where my grandparents are buried and bitch to my mom, who was wondering where the ladies' room was. She says that this used to be a good place, because it was run by foreigners. When the management became Pinoy it went to hell. What exactly are we paying for when we know the candles and flowers will be stolen tomorrow, when the lights aren't even ON? When there's no running water in the bathroom? I wouldn't be so incensed if it weren't so obvious. The cemetery, in this country, at least, is busiest on these 2 days. They should have prepared water, checked everything, including the lights, bulbs, etc. One of the park employees said that most of the lights were off because squatter children had climbed up and stolen the bulbs.

Without light reading my book was out of the question, and I'd nearly finished it in Max's anyway (The Best of Ray Bradbury: The Graphic Novel). So I was looking around, trying to observe people, which is what I tend to do when there's nothing to do. To my surprise and disgust, the yuppies behind us talked about nothing but Friendster, with faux-American accents, at that. Utterly irritating. Worse yet, they actually knew someone I know, one of my Comm blockmates now in the UK. At one point the pretentious bitch one was lecturing her idiot brother, saying "Not unhappy means you're happy," and I was rolling my eyes. My mom saw this and asked me "Does a double-negative make a positive?" I noticed the yuppies had shut up, maybe hearing my mom's question. I replied, loud enough for them to hear, "No. Saying I'm not unhappy just means I'm not unhappy. It doesn't mean I'm happy, either. I could be ambivalent."

Later on, a young couple arrives. They're curious because they're going around looking for a tombstone, reading everything around them. This is because THERE'S NO FUCKING LIGHT. Anyway, when they finally DO find the one they're looking for, all they do is set up two candles, light them, and walk away. No prayers, nothing. I wanted to ask them why they even bothered.

As opposed to this lone young woman tending to two graves. She had the candles and flowers set up. She was there before we arrived. I found her the most interesting. I kept wondering about the circumstances: is she an only child? Or is this her husband and son? Why was no one else with her? She just sat there pensively, watching the flames. Right before we left, she left, too, but removed the melted wax from the stones.

The epitaph on the tombstone of the person above my lolo reads: "Death is cruel loss and sad/but love I do not grudge/keep him love." I really hope mine has at least correct grammar. I like the idea of Alan Moore's suggestion: "Where'd everybody go? Why'd it get so dark?" And I remember fondly one of my favorite parts of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, where a Savannah poet had a bench made for his tombstone on top of the hill where he was buried, so people could sit and see the ships in the distance. He had the words "Cosmic Explorer" engraved; it was the name of one of the ships he saw. I was walking around looking at birth dates, death dates, epitaphs. A four-year old kid. A baby that died the day it was born. Sons that died before fathers, with an empty grave beside them. Meaning the mom's still alive. I found that sad, for some reason. The son had my favorite epitaph in the surrounding area. It reads "Looking forward to that bright morning when we will be together again." It's really touching. When I look, the son has the same birthday as me, but six years older. He would've been 29 if he were still alive.


It's still strange when I discover ex-teachers of mine having blogs. And I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you all to check out CD's online gallery, which is so impressive it's intimidating. It's amazing to actually know such talented people. She has an exhibit opening this Wednesday, 6 PM, 4F Megamall. I forgot which gallery, though; just look around for her name (or a group of people milling about with drinks in hand).

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