I know you are not surprised why I would write you in the year 2011 when you're 55. So wipe that smile off your face because I admit, it is no accident at all - the letter and the choice of year.
We were born on November 11, 1956: 11th day of the 11th month in the year of which the last digits add up to 11. That day was a Sunday and that makes us a Sunday's child (according to an old nursery rhyme: Sunday's child is full of grace). Parang tayong si Mama Mary. :-)
In numerology 11 is equivalent to 2 (1+1) and in our life, we noticed the emerging pattern that we ran the gauntlet of our first experiences:
- first grade had to be postponed for 2 years because we were too young at 5 to be enrolled (remember how Mama used to tease us about not being able to reach our left ear with our right hand because our arm was too short going over our head?)
- being the firstborn son, nephew, and grandchild of our Mindanao-based clan (remember how we rebelled in sophomore college against the family simply because we got tired of being a role model for our siblings and cousins and wanted to lead our own life and assert our self and personality?)
- first graduation from grade school (we cried our eyes out because our parents did not make good on their promise to give you the exclusive Tupperware blue bag with multiple compartments that would have made us the envy of the freshmen class in high school)
- first love and heartbreak (our girlfriend Mae was not welcomed by the clan because our elders feared we might be forced - by shotgun - into early marriage. Remember how they would tease us about seeing her - which made our heart skip a beat - and then tell us how kinky her hair was, show short she was and how she waddled like a duck? If only they could hear our heart breaking into pieces. . .)
- first career choice and frustration (all through grade and high school, we wanted to be a doctor or writer/journalist only to be frustrated to learn that these courses were offered only in Manila-based universities and our parents couldn't afford to send us to study there)
- first college course (hunched over the astigmatism-causing accounting ledgers and worksheets in class while our teacher was busy taking furtive peeks down the blouses of our female classmates, we realized how b-o-r-i-n-g a day job as an accountant could be and promptly shifted to Management the following sem)
- first job and tyrant boss (true, we were recruited a month before graduation to work for a multinational company only to find out that the payoff for the generous pay and prestige was a slave driver of a boss who acted like a brown American to the hilt)
- first trip out of Mindanao to Manila (the Compania Maritima ship we boarded was in the eye of the typhoon lashing at Manila and tilted dangerously to the left when we approached Corregidor Island, and upon reaching Quiapo, we had to wade through waist-high floodwaters while trying to balance a large suitcase on our head and hold on to Papa's hand so we wouldn't get lost in the mad rush to ride a jeepney to Balic-balic)
- first teaching job in a private college (we had to write features for Mod and Mr. & Ms. Magazines to augment our meager income and found ourselves being suffocated by the compartmentalized thinking of the administration which refused to acknowledge that we could be a good Management teacher and writer/journalist as the same time. Remember our disbelief when all the published articles we wrote got no credit in our ranking and promotion?)
At 55, you are now well on your way to enjoy the second half-century of our life, your growing old years. Your face and body now bear the marks of the passing of the years. Remember that each scar, line, ache and pain are well-earned and well-deserved.
Unlike me, you will be guided by the lessons accumulated from my first half of our life. I can not give you any assurance that your second half of it will be any better than mine. But I believe in you, in us.
Always remember our ultimate goal: way beyond being a good teacher, writer or journalist, we want to be remembered as a good person.
As you start the second leg of your trip through life, I leave with you the last few lines of Desiderata: And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
I love you, I love us!
A big bear hug from
Gilbert in the year 2007