The Ibalon Children

by

Alas! James Baldwin was right about children when he said:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

I was in New York University Langone Medical Center psyching myself up, casting away worry while I was in the hospital. That was before I got my boost of two units of PRBC’s—irradiated packed red blood cells, blood type O pos, E-, K- Fya- Fyb- Jkb- S-, and CMV-.

Like before, the nurses complained of the blood bank’s difficulty for a compatible blood type. Vicious antibodies were wrecking my red cells. Testing and matching were hard. But I was unwilling to dwell on that. Instead, I quietly stared at the cerulean reflection of the shimmering East River below, 14 stories down my window, feeling the joy of that bright sunny summer day.

Before the Benadryl and Tylenol pills hugged my senses to sleep, I was miles away, dreaming of wonderful things the world had shown me. I was able to put my illness at the back of my head. I rested comfortably at the onset of the transfusion like the guy in that very old movie, Soylent Green, except, I was there not to die, but to pursue life.

Buried in my reverie, I had my laptop in front of me. I got emails streaming after the right electrical outlet kept the machine running. The one from Gods Lanuza was particularly interesting. He sent me a very late birthday greeting which was more than compensated by a few attached beautiful pictures.

My Ibalonian pal showed his latest family picture with wife Julie Surtida from Vancuover, BC. Thia, his special little girl was with a profusion of blooms. The field of spring tulips was breathtaking. Looking at them, I felt I wasn’t in no immediate need of blood at all. Their fiery red color quickly bathed my pale ailing RBC’s to life.

From Manila, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya and his wife, the former Dr. Josie Canlas, sent me the picture of their only daughter Tintin, another Ibalon angel who lives in Katipunan Road, just a stone’s throw from UP Diliman Campus. In her yellow blouse, cute Tintin looked so innocent and smart like the budding little lady next door. She was a toddler, barely able to rise from her crib when Arnel and Josie showed me her picture a few years ago.

In a separate file, I looked at the picture of 7-year old Andre Mesia-Romano, my nephew who arrived from Florida with her mom Annie a week ago to visit me. I wished I had Andre’s boundless energy and sharpness of mind. When he knew my laptop’s audio wasn’t working well, he handily fixed it so he could show me his favorite videos. The smart little boy from Jacksonville’s Trinity Grade School reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s loving thought about children:

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”

Close by in Long Island, New York there was this picture of Bingbing Badiola’s little Brandon with loving dad Dave. I remembered Mommy Franz Badiola and her Ibalon brood in a recent reunion: Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Adolfo (Totoy) Badiola, Monette Septimo-Badiola etc.—and their families.

Then, I dug into the calmly family picture of Dr. Yasmin Paje in Canada (see top photo.) One of my favorite Ibalon dames, Min exuded her grace and maternal instinct to the hilt—far more than the mothering and deanship she showed us when we were in UP. Her three smart children, including only boy Alfonso, had grown so fast under the care of Poppa Joel Banzon, the doting father of the brood.

All the photos made me impervious against fear and doubt. I went home strong and energized after the procedure. It was good I had that small cache of pictures which I wanted to show you in this wall. I recalled them all—those who continued to touch and brighten the way for UP Ibalon’s next generation. =0=

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