Pray for the sick

I needed the reminder.

Yesterday my mother came home from work looking stressed out. She'd been to one of her patients who was—and probably still is—struggling for dear life. The man came to her days ago to have his tooth extracted. Nanay noticed that his throat was swollen and about half his face paralyzed. The infection caused by the tooth abscess may have caused these. Without tubes attached to his nose, he couldn't breathe. The paralysis was spreading rapidly throughout his body. The antibiotics were his last hope.

It wouldn't have gone that far had the man come for treatment earlier. But he was poor. Obtaining a few pesos to pay for the long jeepney ride was hard for him, let alone getting the payment for cheap medicine. “How old is he?” I asked Nanay. The answer shocked me: 28 years old. He hasn't even reached 30, and he was facing the prospect of an early death.

Nanay gathered us at the dining table to pray for him. That's the most significant thing we could do. If the Lord so wills it, the may the he be healed. May the doctors attending to him be given wisdom, may the medicine take effect immediately. Above all may the Lord save his soul.

I've been asking for a lot of things from the Lord lately, not least of which is that I'd get the subjects I enlisted for next sem. Surely I should pray for more important things, things that matter eternally—like the healing of the sick, the salvation of the peoples of the world who do not know Christ personally, the empowerment of Biblical churches....

I needed the reminder. And so do all of us.

Eye candy

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1. The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's a complicated piece: sentences run wild, spanning pages upon pages, and quotation marks are never used, general sir. Arguably one of Marquez's most ambitious works, it reveals how absolute power can corrupt absolutely. Thanks for the book, Dianne!

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2. Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant. The copy Kuya John lent me is so old you can tear the pages by blowing. I'm still working my way through it. The best story I've read so far remains to be The Necklace. Everytime I read it I feel the urge to tell Madame Loisel: check your diamond if it scores high in the Mohs Hardness Scale!

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3. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When I asked Dianne to lend me her copy (she has a great book collection, mind you), she immediately warned me that it's a love story, knowing fully well my epileptic tendencies when it comes to matters of the heart. I told her, don't worry, Dianne, if it's a Marquez love story I really don't care.

El laberinto del fauno

I knew what a labyrinth was--a maze you can enter if you want to get lost. Or if you want to lose somebody. Hence the line: "I don't want to talk to you for days. So hand me your GPS device, cover your eyes, and get inside."

That covered the first part of the title. But who is Pan? What is a pan? A gadget for cooking that owns a labyrinth? Or is he a distant relative of Peter, having also come from Neverland? I had no idea.

So I watched Pan's Labyrinth to find out, and I hope you will, too, because it won't make a waste of your time. It's so good it will inspire you to learn conversational Spanish and forever make you wonder how eating two pieces of grapes can make one's life utterly miserable.

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Mouth ajar



"I don't want to make a dramatic entrance, but I guess I don't have a choice," Nanay tells me as I hurriedly pay the taxi driver some crumpled bills. She's already 30 minutes late for her conference, thanks to the infamous Manila traffic. We quickly make our way past the bell boys, the security, and the people loitering at the lobby.

"Lance, please meet me at two this afternoon," my mother tells me as she finds the nearest elevator.

"Okay. So what do I do while waiting for you?" I ask.

"You can stay in the lobby, read a book, do something useful. The meeting will take long...and go eat a good breakfast."

"Sure, 'Nay. Basta don't be late. Two o'clock is two o'clock," I warn her. It's waiting for people that irritates me, especially if they take too long to appear. I kiss her good bye, see you later.

I realize I don't want to eat in the nearby restaurants. The prices are expensive, and I don't have a lot of money in my pocket. So I go out of the building then hail a cab. "SM Mall of Asia po," I tell the driver. He motions me to get inside. Except for the heavy traffic along Roxas Boulevard the ride goes on smoothly.

It's only 9 am when I get there. The mall is still closed for visitors, but I roam around anyway. Except for the waiters doing their morning routine of setting the tables, arranging the chairs, prepping up the place for the drove of customers who will start coming in one hour from now, I see only a few people in the benches, anticipating for the entire place to come alive.

I bask in the silence. I am all alone, I can do anything I want. I slowly walk towards the Bay area where the air reeks of the sea. I contemplate how wonderful the view is, and all I can say is, "Ang galing mo, Lord." Time seems to stand still. Then I look at my watch and realize that it's already past 10. It's getting noisy already. "Andyan na ang mga tao."

I go to a coffee shop, order a drink I haven't tasted yet--the name sounds enticing though, Java Banana Something--and find a place under the umbrella shade. It's a good thing I brought my book with me--Crime and Punishment by Fyofor Dostoevsky. I read a couple of pages, I rest my eyes, I fall asleep, I sip my coffee, I read again... the cycle continues. I'm like that for four hours.

When it's ten minutes to two, I hail a cab just outside the mall. I am taken to the hotel where Nanay is supposedly waiting for me already. But she's not there yet. My waiting brings me to sit beside an old man--in his early 60's, with grey hair, and I can only surmise he must be Japanese owing to his eyes. He must be waiting for someone, too. The music playing in the background lulls him to sleep. His eyelids gradually get heavy, his breathing becomes slower, and his mouth leads me to ask why some people just can't keep their mouths shut. Even when asleep.

Like an apparition I see Nanay going down the stairway. Finally we're going home. Yes, home.