Undone Until I Say I Do

Photo not mine. Random photo found in the web.

I have been told by men on several occasions in the past that I am beautiful, witty, wonderful, and amazing. If I am all that, then why am I not married?!

This is a question that used to bother my father, to which the answer remains elusive to this day.

My teachers in high school thought I would not finish my university education and that I would marry early. Let me just say that fortune telling is certainly not going to be a second career option for them.

10 years and 50 pounds ago, I had all the right ingredients to be considered “asawable” (good wife material); educated from a good university, a good family, a body to die for, and I can cook up a storm in the kitchen. I have made good use of my education, landed a good job, my family remains well respected in the community and I am still in shape (round is a shape the last time I looked). I am older and the one good thing about getting older is that now they don’t confuse my waistline for my age.

Does food have something to do with it? I just know how to appreciate food, and it shows.  But how could I not find a husband when I can cook?! They say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Unfortunately the best way to mine is also through the same route. Does this mean that for him to appreciate me, I would have to meet the ISO standards for ideal wife 9001?!

I want a man who is independent – from his mother – but cannot imagine life without me in it (if you hear a wicked laugh, you’re not imagining it). I want a man who would not love me for the rest of my life but would love me for the rest of his and tell the world about it. This is of course before I tell him that family tradition dictates that all relatives are invited to weddings, and that on my father’s side of the family alone I am related to some 3,000 people, not counting pets and the household help.

Or is it because I am independent? Is it the curse of independent women to scare away men? I have had my share of lovers who loved my freedom and independence – so much that they kept me free and unmarried up to now. I have had close calls, and almost took the road much traveled called marriage twice.

I have accepted two marriage proposals and to balance that, broke two as well. I thought I was ready for marriage, so why not make their lives interesting or miserable by marrying them at the time? Each time I broke off the relationship, I would ask myself, what is missing to what seemed to be a perfect ending to a courtship and the beginning of a new life with someone?

There are no excuses, only choices.

It is a choice to not be with someone when he does not complete you. There is nothing missing. I realized that it is possible that I can enjoy the company I keep in my solitude.

What can I do if I want someone with the look of Brad Pitt, the dry wit, okay, sarcasm of Simon Cowell, who sings like Bono, and would not blink if I asked for the crown jewels of England? I want someone who can match my reasoning, but one whom I could not step on, and twirl around my finger. One who is sure of himself even if he’s not perfect, but I won’t mind if he thinks I am.

I would rather stay undone than say I do, and be undone later.

The panic button has been pressed, and a clear indicator is my father wanting to raffle me off to the next man who comes along. If in the past he was so strict when it comes to me getting into a relationship, he now wants to give me away, with the title to our house thrown in as a bonus.

Until such time that I meet Mr. Right, maybe I can enjoy life with Mr. Right Now. Life has so much to offer, there’s no time to waste, only time to live it with joy and passion.

I hope that until that time comes, I can keep my wit, remain wonderful, continue to amaze, and since I plan to be fully plastic surgeoned by the time I’m sixty, be beautiful still, then maybe, just maybe, I just might get married.

When that happens, you’re all invited.


The One Who, Thankfully, Got Away


It’s better to have laughed and lost than never to have laughed at all.

My love story is not one for the books, mainly because that one great love asked me to never write about us and maybe because I am not quite satisfied with how the story ends. Besides, I don’t have children who will have children of their own that I can regale or horrify with my romantic history someday. So really, it is highly unlikely that our story will ever get to print.

But just because I have loved and lost, it doesn’t mean that the world will stop spinning and lock my heart forever. Once in a while, we meet someone, who could change the course of our love story. I remember one such person with fondness … and amusement. Alright, it was more of the latter than the former.

I named him Ninja Turtle. Because. He reminded me of them. Don’t get me wrong, he is a nice person, the kind who looks at the world with wonder and enthusiasm. At the time, I didn’t know the extent of just how much he looked at the world with wonder until that one fateful movie date.

The movie is one of the greats, the one that made being a geek truly cool. We were halfway into the movie, and enjoying every minute of it, at least I was, when Ninja Turtle held my hand, leaned towards me and whispered “na unsa diay na sila Joy?” (what’s happening to them?). I was too engrossed in what was happening on the screen to wonder at the question, and so I told him why and what was going on, and before I realized it, I was explaining the movie to him as it was unfolding right before our eyes. What was the movie? It was Star Wars. He did not understand the battle scene and why it was funny. From that point until the end, he watched the movie with audio subtitles – recited by me.

It was not our last date, but I knew that night that it was the end of my story with him. He deserved someone better than me, someone who will truly love him and enthusiastically explain movies to him with a running commentary.

We’re still friends. And bless his heart, he’s still clueless as to why we didn’t work out.

The Family from Mars

The price of family is that you cannot choose them. I certainly did not choose mine. And come to think of it, they’re also stuck with me – for life.

My family is normal or typical, at least that’s what I thought when I was growing up. It was only when I left home, went to university, and met other people, that I realized, there are actually normal people and my family is not among them.

Now, lest you think I am not proud of them, despite and with all their quirks and peculiarities, I am so glad to be part of the family.

My mother and her side of the family is a neutralizer to my genetic make up. She was everything that I am not – she was petite, soft spoken, had straight hair, fair skin, and kept to herself most of the time. I, on the other hand, am round and brown, big hair when not rebonded, and could not keep my mouth shut even if my life depended on it. I refuse to lead a rudimentary life that would delight in the routine of the comforts of a life filled with certainty most of the time. I’m afraid I’m in for a rough ride, but I think it’ll be a ride done in style.

I am my father’s daughter. A fact that delights my father no end, and the cause of frustration for my mother on more occasions than I can remember. My father and his side of the family, is a bunch of contradictions, mostly interesting, but not necessarily one to be emulated at all times. What is typical Filipino in our family is our number and the blood ties that bind. Everyone is a relative, even when thrice, four times, removed. My grandparents were from the Manobo and Lapaknon tribes of Agusan. But my apparently naughty great-great-grandmother got pregnant by a Spanish priest and since she could not say it out loud at the time, you can all assume that when asked – she would claim we are all children of God – at least that was her standard answer when asked who’d dunnit.

I grew up in a family that allowed us to be who we wanted to be. Just as we have doctors, teachers, engineers, and architects, we also have an uncle who’s a gun for hire but is now remorseful and sells pirated porn DVDs instead, a few land grabbers, and one or two swindlers. All of them gave free services to family members, and were loyal to blood relatives.

We never had much in material things, but everyone is given the opportunity to a good education. Yes, even the land grabbers and swindlers had a university education.

We pretty much did things in a different way. Swimming lessons consisted of being thrown into the Agusan River, which not only has a strong current, but was also infested with crocodiles years ago. Our idea of safety was letting the farmhand go into the water first, to check if crocodiles are having an afternoon delight, before clearing it safe for swimming lessons. He lived to the ripe old age of 89, and no, he did not die as dinner for those creatures. Talk about occupational hazards!

Every Christmas we gather in one home and celebrate it with our cousins, uncles, aunts, and friends. Every child presents a talent. There are no excuses for not presenting – to our family everyone has talent. In fact anything goes. Proof of that? One Christmas, when I was five, every child was made to present a song or dance number, or recite a poem. I recited the entire multiplication table from tables 1 to 10 – and everyone listened and cheered. I really thought reciting THAT was a talent, until I went to school, and found out otherwise. To me that was normal, and that’s my family.

Looking back to my childhood, I realized that the person I am today is really a reflection of my upbringing.

When everyone wanted to go abroad, even when I had the opportunity to migrate, I decided that I will stay in the Philippines and be part of nation-building. From the time I became a professional I have made a conscious decision to only work for companies that are socially responsible. My contribution? Is to be the best that I can be, to be honest in my dealings, and hopefully leave a legacy of good deeds and hope to others.

Like everyone else I want to have the comforts of life, but thanks to my family, I learned to appreciate what true wealth is all about. And that is the love of family.

I am away from home, and miss them a lot. But hey, happiness can also mean having the affection and care of a close-knit and very loving family, like mine, – in another city.