Sunday Lifestyle

We’re only human

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

It’s December! The year is ending soon. Wasn’t it just last week when it was beginning? No, of course not, there were so many bad days, so many good days, so many active days and so many days spent knitting in front of the TV set to alleviate boredom. Amazing how in some ways life has not changed and in other ways it has changed radically.

 One day, my cousin sent me text saying I would “soon” hear a voice from my past. Who? I wondered. He would not say. Then I got a text from Rudy Romero, my old neighbor from Palm Village. He was organizing a reunion of all of us who once lived there. I remembered days spent with his wife repainting his apartment across the street. He remembers cutting himself shaving while staring at my legs as I watered our postage stamp garden in short shorts. 

The reunion at Polo Club was so pleasant. There I saw old neighbors — Hector and Claire Quesada, Teddy and Carminda Regala, Rica Camacho, Mario’s sweet widow, Rene and Reni Francisco. They were there when I was there. Then there was Marilyn Trinidad Mapa, my classmate since grade school, who married Tony Mapa and then was widowed, who took over my apartment unit when we moved out to live with my grandmother who was then dying of cancer.

They remembered me for teaching them how to make beaded candles, reminding me that I have always been a craftswoman. I was in my 20s when we were all neighbors. Now I’m in my 70s. That was 50 years ago yet we are all still alive, still lively and smiling, always brimming with memories.

I invited all of them to my show but only Rudy went. Then I invited him to a singing evening at a friend’s house because at my show he and I sang a song together. It was a night for people who had sung together to enjoy singing together once more this time to a sophisticated karaoke. We were a new group of old friends who had come together to sing and talk and have a good time

The husband of my cousin Mandy Consunji, Ruben Torres, who sings at my show, sang a Tagalog song with me. Sapagkat Kami Ay Tao Lamang was a song that caught my eye on the karaoke list. It was a song I learned to sing in my 20s, when I was working at Avellana & Associates as a young account executive still learning the ropes in advertising. It was a popular song then, the soundtrack of a movie that starred Eddie Rodriguez, I think, a good-looking young actor then and Marlene Dauden’s name keeps floating up in my mind though I don’t know if she was the main star.

“Puso, kahit hindi turuan, nakapagtataka natututunan din ang magmahal… Tunay kami’y makasalanan, kung kasalanan man ay sapagkat kami ay tao lamang... Kahit Diyos na ang siyang may utos, dahil sa pagsinta damdamin din ang siyang masusunod… Di ba tayo ay tao lamang? Ganyan tayong lahat. Oh kay sarap ng buhay. At kung iyan man ay kasalanan ay sapagkat kami ay tao lamang…”

Loosely translated to English it means: “Even if we don’t teach our heart it learns to love. It leads us to sin but we sin because we are human.  Going against God’s commandments we fall in love (with the wrong person) but we follow our feelings because we are all human and this makes our lives beautiful. If it’s a sin we commit it only because we are human.”

I never realized how hard it is to translate from Tagalog to English, but that’s the song. I wonder now if I knew in my 20s when I was singing it to myself what the words meant, how true the words were. When I think back I realize I must have because at the time, I was separated from my husband and in the process of falling in love with someone who was married. Now I know it happens to people of all ages. It happens when you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. Maybe even in your 100s, as long as there are other men and women around that you can fall in love with.

I remember one of the girls I have lunch with telling a story about an uncle who died happy at 96. When he was asked what made him so happy, he simply said, “Chicks!” And he left behind a ton of children.

I, too, have an uncle like that. At his funeral a small child, his with his caregiver, was carried over his coffin. I thought he had 18 children but apparently the number was closer to 36.

Sapagkat kami ay tao lamang. Because we’re only human. And who made us human? I ask. Only God did!

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