About Me

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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Esoteric Adventure with The Verge

For this entry of The Mediocre Wanderer, I present to you a journey that is BEYOND compare. A journey that requires no visas, no passports, just a whole lot of love, positive thoughts and living a good life. I won't be your handy dandy tour guide, because this time, I'll be taking a backseat as my baby brother Verge will be the one welcoming you to that place beyond the sun when your flight becomes available.

Your Guide, Verge:
Born on May 9, 1984 at 12:01 am in Baguio City, to Mila and Lu, Vergel Lucino Palma Santos was a healthy, 7 pounded, grayish- blue eyed boy. He was the latest pride and joy of the family. I would've hated him for stealing my thunder as an only child for 6 years, had he not been the cutest, most huggable person in the universe. And that smile! Man, he knew how to woo the ladies  without trying even back then! He was so cute that even a male cousin of ours called him a "heavenly body". The idea seemed to make sense for Ma  that she nicknamed him "Heaven". To this day, all his Baguio friends know him as that.

Fast forward to the school years: Verge displayed an incredible amount of smarts that he skipped two grade levels  and was consistently an honor student. He was, up until his social life caught on, a University Scholar at UP Diliman. He managed to finish his post grad studies for Computer Science (UP), and Law school at UP Law. While other parents forced and begged their kids to finish their studies, we begged him to take it easy with his.

I remember walking into this old general merchandise store with him and Papa. An old Indian man, the owner, went up to dad and told him, "this boy is very smart, based on the shape of his head and face. Answer all his questions when he asks as his curiosity would only make him smarter". As the previous "smart child", I thought it was all hogwash. Guess I was wrong. Did I also mention that he was MENSA? :P

The "Professional" Verge was someone we rarely got to see. He worked hard and played hard and got what he wanted out of life. He stuck to his guns. His idealistic views on working as a programmer and doing the actual work and not just delegating was something he felt strongly about even during his OJT days in college. He had gotten a slot at P&G, but rather that (his words) he be "a glorified coffee boy" he wanted to push pens and get the keyboard cracking at a small software company that gave him the opportunity to learn. What can I say? He may have been stubborn but hey, the boy had his principles.

Ma wanted to keep him close to home, and had tried to put him in a local semicon company (which I eventually ended up in). But being Verge, he stuck to his guns and worked where he wanted to work. This made me even prouder of him (as if that was even possible).

I respected my brother and never pried into his affairs. They were his, not mine. But when it came to someone making him a hot beverage and have a shoulder to cry on, he knew I was there for him, as I knew that he too had my back.

with nephew MAX (Magnus Akira Xavier)
He never got married, saying I had so much kids (4)  and that someone had to be there as back up (he was a good baby sitter to all my kids, making sure they ate and would even wash them up after going potty). He said this sarcastically. But with him, sarcasm meant he loved you. The worst it got, the more he cared about you.

I remember a time when me, my mom, cousins and him went to eat at Tong Yan. After my 2nd serving, he looked at me, smirked/smiled and said "Aya! Eat to live NOT live to eat!!". That was him. The Verge I loved the most. Honest to a fault, extremely loyal and cared more than he let on.

The last time I saw him was after we had gotten back from Cebu, on our last whale shark interaction. We had this thing where we would always see each other before or after one of our trips. It was this particular time (February 23, 2013) that I noticed how sick he seemed. Thinner than usual, disoriented and just, for lack of a better word, tired looking. He wasn't my handsome, witty and full of life Ven . Something was off. So off that it recently occurred to me that we, as with our norm, did not take pictures of our time together.

He had just gotten blood work done that day because he wasn't feeling well for the past 3 weeks. I asked if he wanted to be brought to the hospital. He said he didn't. Still hate myself for not pushing him out the door and straight to the ER. Instead, I did what older sisters did best.  I coddled him.

I took him out to dinner, sliced his steak for him, got up to get him some water, picked up some fever medication for him at the drugstore as he held on to my arm because he had a hard time walking. His breath would come short if we moved faster than a snail. I worried about him, so worried that I asked him to stay the night with us. I kept on checking up on him, like my presence would ward off some unseen enemy.

The next day, we had to go back to Baguio. He had sweated through his shirt the night before and wanted a clean one. I lent him my fuchsia pink whale shark shirt, and teased him to not cry over that shirt until we see each other again. Sort of what he did when he had chicken pox as a kid and I didn't want to get it, that I went to our father's family house in Malabon rather than stay with him at our maternal uncle's resort in Pansol, Laguna. For two weeks, he would cry himself to sleep (muttering "Aya...Aya") while holding on to a Betty Boop shirt that I had left behind .

"..fields of butterfly" - Shimmer by Fuel, one of his fave 90s alternative tune
I brought him over to the taxi stand and put him in that cab, taking note of the plate number and cab company. I hugged him before he got in. Kissed him on the cheek and told him to get himself checked and that I loved him. He said he would, told me he loved me and closed the door. This would be the last time I would see him alive, hold him in my arms and tell to his face how I felt. Two weeks later (March 7), he passed away in the Makati Med from pneumonia compounded by his severe anemia. He was only 28.

It seems so anti-climactic, and somewhat off topic, but when we were kids, there was this time that we were doing arts and craft in my room. I don't really know if it was accidental or "accidental" on my part when Verge's finger got pinched by the puncher. He was about to cry from the pain that I had to think quick as I was so scared of getting in trouble with mom. I told him to stop crying because there was a giant hairy spider named Hodgekin that ate little kids who cry. He was so freaked out and said that he couldn't help crying. I told him that even if he felt like crying, he should put a big smile on his face and say the magic words to repel Hodgekin: "Cheese Baby Plas". This was his mantra whenever he felt like tearing up when he was much younger.

Christmases were always hard for us...

...but we managed to get through it together
I did apologize for it last Christmas. He told me he developed a fear of spiders because of that :P I never did say I was perfect, but I was sorry :P

"CHEESE BABY PLAS"...now I know how he felt back then. To try to put a smile on your face while the tears are streaming down. To tell people that you're ok, even when you're not. To lie to yourself and say that it will get better in time, when deep down inside, your heart is broken into a million shards that you don't even know how to pick up the pieces or where to begin... (cheese baby plas!) I miss my brother.

The Place Beyond The Sun:
As mentioned at the start, the only requirement in joining this esoteric adventure and be where my brother is at is living life to the fullest, no matter what the duration is. Love and laugh like you've never loved and laughed before. If you hurt others, apologize and take actions to repair damages. Lastly, march to the beat of your own drum. You are MORE than enough. And if others can't accept who you are, then they're not worth your time. At least you tried. These are his lasting legacies to all those who have loved and made him a part of their lives. And trust me when I say that there are a lot of us.

The amenities and perks of the place are: no worries, no sadness, no sickness and no death. No nagging females, losing quiz night teams, and an endless supply of booze and sublime, honest to goodness peace. Life becomes endless as you wait for your loved ones to check in, in God's time.

see you when I see you Ven. Aya loves you forever and a week after that!

If and when you get there before I do, please give my brother a hug. You don't have to tell him that I love him because he has always known that.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!