Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Papa Is Not Generic

Parang sobrang boring naman kung 46 characters lang, diba

I was given 46 characters to greet my dad a very happy Father's Day. Spaces, punctuation marks and everything else in between is included in that 46 characters thingamajig. 46 characters. Nothing more. Nothing less. Plain. Simple. Boring. Generic. That's what you get when you give a person 46 characters. You get generic junk. You get the usual, 'Happy Father's Day to the best dad ever!' You get the same thing billions of other fathers are also getting. It is like drinking generic medicine. It is like buying brandless clothing. It is like not being original. It is like not using your brain to think. It is like putting your father in that generic category which would make him not at all special. My dad would be disappointed if I made him generic. He would not like that.

So let me give you some reasons why my papa is not generic.

Super. When papa was brought into this world, he weighed so much. Instead of weighing him in the baby weighing scale, they had to weigh him in the regular weighing scale. One nurse called him a super baby. The name stuck and since that time the whole world has known him as Super. No one knows him by his real name except Facebook. The funny thing is that when he tried changing his name to Super on Facebook, Facebook thought he was trying to trick the system.  

Everything Filipino, I learn from him. I think it is safe to assume that I learned my crappy Filipino from my dad. No, he speaks really good Filipino, but I just mess up all the good Filipino he teaches me. Papa had to translate all those Filipino novels I had to read when I was in grade school and high school. He reviewed me to death when it was exam week. And he kinda did all of my assignments that were in Filipino. Yes, he helped me cheat, but he also taught me how to love sinigang, eat lumpia, crave for adobo, beg for menudo and love kwek kwekPapa takes me to places I don't like going to like Divisoria and Quiapo. He has dragged me around the Philippines to see the different provinces, to eat all kinds of delicacies and to try to make me more Filipino. 

He cooks amazing food! If mom reads this, papa and I are so dead. Let's say that papa and I do not like the food that was prepared for dinner. What we usually do is sit, smile and swallow the food. We linger around the dinning table and wait for mom to go upstairs. Once she is gone, papa looks for anything he can mix together so he can come up with fried rice or spaghetti sauce or anything edible. And somehow, he always manages to come up with something that tastes so good. Problem is, papa can never repeat that thing that he cooked. Yet it is so fun because I never know what kind of food or taste to expect. 

I fell in love with coffee because of papa. It was a Sunday and we were at some restaurant. Papa had ordered coffee, stood up to go to the toilet and left me with mom. While mom was not looking at me, I took a sip of papa's coffee. I think he noticed that his cup was not full when he finally came back. Mom had said some long speech about why kids should not drink coffee, but that did not stop me from drinking it. Every time papa would order or make coffee, he would let me drink the last few gulps. I was ten years old when he finally taught me how to make my own coffee. Late at night, when I am in my room and when he is still working in the dinning room, he makes coffee and I run downstairs to steal some from him. And then we have those random talks about why Modern Family is a good series to watch. 

He stays up late at night. Sometimes he does not sleep at all! I think my dad can do without sleep for a week. Maybe he got used to not sleeping because of his work before. Or maybe it was because of his trigeminal neuralgia which would keep him awake writhing in pain. Or maybe because he really is a vampire and he just won't tell anybody! One time, I asked him why he sleeps so late and sometimes does not sleep. Papa just said, 'Past twelve midnight is the best time to think and write.' Papa is so right! 

Papa talks to me about Glee. He talks to me about Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Community, Sex and the City, Friends, The Middle and Downton Abbey. He goes on and on about Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. He knows enough of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology. He surprises me by waking me up to tell my that Steve Jobs died, that Taylor Lautner is finally single and that Zac Efron might come to the Philippines. He knows all the names of the actors and actresses. He knows who sang what song. He knows who wrote what movie and who directed it. I wish I had a brain like his that remembers everything that has to do with entertainment. 

Gadgets? Papa knows nothing about gadgets. It is so annoying because he refuses to have a mobile phone. He ends up giving out my number to his friends who call me up when they need to talk to him. How annoying is that? But he knows all about loving Ada, Téa and Gusto. He listens to Ada even if she tells the same Greek myth over and over again. Papa watches Téa do her ballet. And he becomes Gusto's personal playground. 

He told me I could be my own person. I think I was the only kid who walked around the mall with paper slippers. I would also make paper earrings and wear them around a lot. People would give me funny faces, but papa showed me not to care. When I let him check out my first piercing he said, 'Why only one? You should have gotten more!' The first time I dyed my hair, he convinced me that the brown looked funny and that I should change it to red. He helped me dye my hair blue. When he sees people with tattoos, he goes up to them to ask them for the story behind the tattoo and then comes back to tell me that tattoos should always tell a story. He doesn't really mind when I come up with strange ideas, dress like trash and jump around like a kangaroo. 

We debate about everything. He is against the RH bill. I am for the RH bill. He thinks that the president is doing an awesome job. I think the president could do better. He says that Meryl Streep is the best actress. I say Sofia Vergara is amazing. He does not like BonChon. I like BonChon. He says that black and white are colors. I tell him that in some cases they are shades and in some cases they are colors. He says it's a rainy day. I say it's a gloomy day. And we fight. And make up. Well, he's the one who makes up with me by drawing random pictures and giving me money to buy Mr. Potato Heads. =) 

Papa gave me a faith to hope in. Papa never asked me to have a religion. He just told me to have faith, to believe in it and live it out. I do not call myself a Catholic or a Christian. I curse a lot. I get bored when the preacher starts giving long and unrealistic examples of how to be holy. I act like I do not listen in church, but I sometimes do listen. I hate long prayers, yet bug God a lot. I do not fast or abstain when the church tells us to. I think I am the perfect example of what a religious person is not. I don't really care because I have a faith in the Supreme Being who created me and invited me to live for Him. And I have this faith because I see my dad live out his faith in his own unique way. 

Heck, my papa is not generic. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Think You Should Smile More

Ada thinks I should smile more.

A few nights back, Ada and I were in the TV room not watching TV. She was playing some random game on the iPad and I was watching Friends on my Mac. Every now and then she would pause whatever she was playing, call me over to her side of the room and show me some interesting or funny thing that just happened in her game. I would also show her some funny pictures about Greek mythology and Percy Jackson and Hey Arnold. Every five minutes, we found ourselves looking at the TV, asking each other what was happening in Phineas and Ferb and then howling at their silly contraptions. That went on for about an hour or so. And then out of the blue, Ada gives me her words of wisdom. 

Ada: 'You know tita Anna, I think you should smile more.'
Me: 'Huh? Ada, I am happy. I smile.'
Ada: 'You only smile in pictures. You have to smile more.'
Me: 'What on earth?'
Ada: 'Try it! It's fun!'

And just like that she went back to being a kid and to her game and I tried to focus on watching Friends. But I could not get myself to concentrate on watching that old show because of what Ada had just said. You know how some person says some random thing and you end up thinking about it for a long time? And I hate it when people make me think because that usually means that I am looking for a loophole in the truth that they just told me which I do not want to accept as true. I was searching my brain for some reason or excuse I could use to explain to Ada why she could never catch me smiling. I wanted to explain to her that happiness is not just expressed in smiles, but can be expressed in many other ways also. And smiling does not necessarily mean that the person is happy or joyful or merry. I was ready to set the record straight with Ada, but it was dinner time.

That night, I started analyzing what she said. Ada had said, 'I think you should smile more.' My Mac's dictionary said that smiling is to form one's features into a pleased, kind or amusing expression. Normally this means that the corners of a person's mouth is turned up and the person's teeth are showing. People who have ugly teeth or who look hilarious when their teeth show, smile with their mouths closed and their lips make the shape of a banana. For me, smiling is to look cheerful, happy, glad, contended, pleased and all other words that are not associated with being sad. Weird because I replied by saying, 'I am happy. I smile.' I realized that Ada was not trying to get me to be happy. She was not asking me if I was happy or not. She did not imply that I was unhappy nor did she want me to fake happiness. Ada simply wanted me to smile more. She wanted me to look happy. She wanted me to give people a look of happiness. Just a look of happiness. Look. Expression. Appearance. Facade. Look happy by smiling. Change your expression to a smiling one. Appear happy. Put on a facade of happiness. 

That sounded so familiar. It was what mom had told me years ago when I was only a little girl. Mom had told me that as soon as I leave the house, I had to smile like I meant it. And I live by that. No, I do not think that I am being fake. I would like to think that by putting a smile on my face even if I did not feel like smiling or feel happy, I would come to believe that I really was merry. It is only proper not to let the whole world know the problems I may be facing. It is only right to keep my sadness to myself. And it would be rude, to go around with an angry expression on my face that would just destroy the day of the people I interact with. Keep that smile on your face. Keep your problems to yourself. Keep your poise. 

But I wondered, is it possible to smile and really mean it? Is is possible to smile because you are happy? My friend, Jhamz, told me about a week ago that she had changed her perspective in life. I was laughing so bad because that seemed so deep. She calls her new perspective in life, 'Being Happy.' I told her that I would try to do that. But at the back of my head I was like, 'This is so stupid!' Yet after what Ada said, I thought to myself, 'Heck, Anna! Enough is enough! It is time to be happy. Really happy.' I noticed people think that you have to get to some stage in life in which you can smile and be happy. You gotta have a boyfriend , a Mac, a thin body, a new phone, a lot of money and on and on and on.But no, you never get to a point where smiling and happiness comes naturally. It is a conscious decision. It really is a change of perspective. It means knowing the hardships you are going through, yet choosing to overcome them by finding the good in the situation. Maybe that's what Ada meant. Maybe that's what mom had been trying to tell me since I was a little girl. 

Now smiling for me means so much more than just attempting to hide painful things or putting on a facade of happiness. It means a change of perspective and a new way of thinking. It means choosing to see the good in a person you just really want to kill at the moment. It means not freaking out when you find out that you've got five majors this semester and have to get a grade higher than 2.5 (85). It means not panicking when you realize that you have tons of speeches to write, edit and memorize. It means being patient with relationships and not rushing them. It means not getting annoyed when plans do not turn out the way you want them to. It means being respectful to people who may not even deserve your respect. It means looking for a solution or maybe an answer instead of sulking about the difficulty. It means being thankful. It means being grateful. It means having hope. It means clinging on to faith

I think you should smile more! =)