For You, Daddy!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

With A Little Help From My Friends

 

 

The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.  ~ Swedish proverb

We all know that we cannot get through life entirely on our own.

Today is International Labour Day. This post is dedicated to the many and mostly nameless people who make my life easier. They do not just do their job, they care about the kind of service they provide. Their job, where I’m concerned, is about helping me. Yes, they are paid for their services, but salaries do not ensure that service is provided with caring or affection. I get this from my help at home, and I am blessed to get similar personalised attention from most of those I interact with, be it on a regular basis or once only encounters.

Below, I will share stories of two people who I am extremely fond of and another who … do not react, I’m being a drama queen … saved my life.

  

  

1. Isabella

Bella mia, Isabella

Isabella is our family cook. Her family and ours have been intertwined for three generations. Her parents were the cook and maid with my grandparents. Isabella has been one of the longest serving cooks for Daddy, Mummy, Big Bro, Big Sis and I. Isabella’s son is Mum’s back up driver.

Isabella is no maid to us, but a family member. She eats with us at our dining table (yes, I have to specify this because it is, uh, not the done thing around here) and she gets the same kinds of gifts that Mum does for Christmas and her birthday. We are just as comfortable at Isabella’s home.

Isabella was, and still is, one of the pillars of my family during my years away from home. She is one of the many I relied on to lend her time and her assistance when need arose, all without even being requested.

‘Thank you’ is woefully inadequate, Isabella, for all you have done and all you have been to Daddy and Mummy over the decades. If you were aware of my blog, this tribute to you and your photograph up here would fill you with joy, but you know very well how terribly I handle attention to myself. Most important of all, I know that you know how much you mean to your “Kate Baby.”

Thank you for being the blessing you are to my family, Isabella. 

2. Dia

  

Buena Dia

Dia is my neighbour’s maid. She has been with that family even before I was born. All the families in my neighbourhood are close knit. As a result, we are friends with the help in all the homes, too.

Dia has a special place in my heart because she has a special place in her heart for …wait for it… my tummy! 🙂 

Dia knows that I love eating on the whole, and home cooked meals from scratch in particular. Like all those in our neighbourhood, she knows I absolutely love shellfish and pork. Every time she cooks my favourite variations, she will bring some across for me.

Dia in Spanish means ‘day’. How appropriate! Dia and I greet each other every morning when we’re both in our adjacent gardens. The first thing she says when she sees me is, “May God grant you a good day, Small Baby Madam!*” Then we exchange the customary pleasantries, share our planned programme for the day and carry on with our lives.

*Family members have titles based on our hierarchy in the family. Mum is Madam, Big Sis is Big Baby Madam and I am Small Baby Madam. Quaint and apt.

After dinner, once again, each steps out in the garden to bid the other a good night after giving each other a rundown of our day’s activities. Dia learned to say “Goodnight” from me when I was very young, but I couldn’t have been a good teacher because to date, she still signs off with, “May God grant you a peaceful sleep. Goo (sic) night, Small Baby Madam!” Aww. That “goo” night wish makes me go all gooey (in a nice way) each time she chirps it. 

Dia, thank you making my day, every day of my life! 

   

3. Merlyn

  

My magical Merlyn

   

  

Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will meet them on the way down” – Author Unconfirmed

I learned that this statement applies even when the direction is reversed.

I will go into detail another time about my experience at the rice terraces in Batad, in the Philippines because it was a memorable one for me. Now, I will focus on Merlyn’s role in, uh, rescuing my life. (Thank you for playing along and not laughing in my face at that gross exaggeration.)

 

I wanted to get to the Tapplya waterfall which is on the other side of the rice terraces at Batad. Earlier travellers (who reported online) and locals recommended guides for this trek, but when doing my pre-trip research, I had read of a few instances where trekkers had attempted this stretch without a guide. Being a copycat, and a foolhardy one at times, I opted to go it alone.

It was cold (14°C/32°F) and misty that day, but mercifully, no rain that morning and early afternoon. It took me another 1.5 hours to descend through the terraced land onto the other side where I was to begin my third and final descent to the waterfall.

The trail was nothing like I’d experienced before. (I’ve not done a whole lot of trekking really.) No steps at all, just rugged path, which was now wet and slippery from the previous day’s downpour. There was no proper trail after another scenic point because very few tourists venture down to the terraces, and even less, to the waterfall. For good reason.

I walked sideways along cut-out paths as narrow as 30 cm (1 foot) with my back pressed against the wet, muddy mountain side. At other times, I literally hung on to shrubs and branches to steady myself or move ahead. I leapt across some scary crevices; not deep, but jagged enough to break bones. I held my breath and prayed frantically several times, but never was I too scared to move on. Instead, I was even more pumped. I felt like one of those adrenaline junkies that I’d hitherto scoffed at for being reckless and selfish. Although, after that experience, I began thinking of them differently having experienced a similar rush, Mum, you have no reason to worry. I’ve heard you say, “No parent should have to bury their child” often enough to not pursue extreme adventure. Cross my heart.

Cut to me going down towards the waterfall, coming to a downpour created impasse and turning around to head back up. Not so fast. I got lost. In the middle of a soggy, terraced rice field.

Steps to nowhere

At the bottom right corner (the red arrow), is where I began my ascent through the fields. The tiny circle there encloses 2 adults. That will give you an idea of how high the terraced walls are. I did not expect that height or degree of difficulty to navigate through. Much wiser now.

On my way down, I had seen just 2 workers in the fields; two tribal women. I chatted with them briefly and learned that the chattier of the two was named Merlyn.

On my way back up, when I finally accepted that I was lost, I had no idea where they were. I scanned the fields, but did not spot them. Still, I knew my only bet was to yell and hope they were within earshot. I bellowed, “Help!” twice, and then, “Can you hear me? I am lost.”

I heard a female voice respond. Hallelujah. After yelling our locations and following each other’s voices, we finally saw each other in the distance. She was too far off for me to recognise her. She tried to give me instructions on retracing my steps to get to a path. The thought of going down a wall that was figuratively a wall as well, and jumping again across a terrifying crevice I breached once was … NO WAY! I refused. So she had to come to me; although, that being her turf, she did not have to tackle the obstacle course stretch I did in my earlier attempt.

I was pleased when she came into sight because I recognised her as Merlyn, the older one I had chatted with on the way down. Merlyn recognised me immediately, too. She knew I was going to the waterfall alone. When we met again, I asked her why she wasn’t surprised I was attempting that stretch without a guide and why she did not caution me. She easily replied that I came across as very confident and that I looked like I knew what I was getting into. Oh Merlyn, I’m a poseur!

Anyway, Melryn began heading towards a previously encountered and avoided “forest” (the blue arrow’d path), and  I was taken aback, but she encouraged me gently to follow her. She was tiny, so she went ahead and tried to clear the branches for me. Most of the time, I crept forward on my haunches. At times, I hunched over double, but I enjoyed every moment of mousing through that other worldly secret passage. 🙂 40 minutes after we met, we arrived at the first of the handful of homes in the area. It was her daughter’s home, and I had spoken very briefly to her daughter as well on the way down.

It paid to be nice on my way down because it made coming up (for air) so much better.

Thank you, Merlyn, for saving me that unforgettable day four years ago.

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.” ~ John D. Rockefeller

To Isabella, Dia, Merlyn and everyone else who makes my life easier in whatever little or big way, know that I am grateful.

 

 

 



Thank you, orples and  The Book of Terrible  for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, orples and The Book of Terrible  for liking my last post.

***********************************************************************

P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 



 

 

 

 

 

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8 Comments »

  1. Ah Kate, a little appreciation goes a long, long way. I’m sure that Isabella and Dia are as appreciative of you as your are of them. They no doubt look upon you as their own child. They are very lucky to have you in their lives.

    Meryln problably looks back on her rescue mission and smiles, knowing you bit off a bit more than you could chew. But what is life without adventure, even if sometimes we wish we’d not been so adventurous at the time? I’ve found myself in quite a few of those situations myself. LOL. And somehow, I’ve come out alive, with little left but memories to look back on, and chuckle about, now that the dangers have passed. I’m glad you didn’t slide down the slippery enbankments, never to be heard from again. Had that been the case, I’d not have had the pleasure of meeting you, even if only in cyberspace.

    It’s wonderful to have you back from you latest adventures, sharing another lovely blog experience with us. 🙂 Have a great day, see you soon. 🙂 Marcy

    Like

    Comment by orples — Tuesday, 1 May 2012 @ 11:11 am |Reply

    • >Ah Kate, a little appreciation goes a long, long way.

      – Yes, it does. Merely acknowledging something that someone does for me makes me feel good about my life and about putting a smile on someone’s face.

      >They no doubt look upon you as their own child.
      – They do. And I think that makes all the difference. Being loved – it’s the best!

      >Meryln problably looks back on her rescue mission and smiles, knowing you bit off a bit more than you could chew.
      – I hope she does because she should certainly feel good about ‘rescuing’ this silly city slicker.

      >But what is life without adventure, even if sometimes we wish we’d not been so adventurous at the time?
      – True. I’m all for it because adventure teaches us a lot about ourselves and life. However, I draw the line at risking injury because no (deliberate) physical pain is worth the lesson AND I don’t want to subject my loved ones to the emotional trauma of seeing me suffer in any way.

      >I’ve found myself in quite a few of those situations myself. LOL. And somehow, I’ve come out alive, with little left but memories to look back on, and chuckle about, now that the dangers have passed.

      – Please share those sometime as well, Marcy, if they are not too painful to recall. Some readers (I know I will) may know what to do should they find themselves in a similar quandary and some may even learn what not to do when they recognise certain signs.

      >I’m glad you didn’t slide down the slippery enbankments, never to be heard from again.
      – Yes, the slippery surfaces were a shock to deal with, but what frightened me more were the jagged, deep crevices that separated the fields. The farmers know their way around safer paths, of course, but those paths are impossible to determine to the unfamiliar eye.

      >Had that been the case, I’d not have had the pleasure of meeting you, even if only in cyberspace.
      – Aww, thanks, Marcy!

      >It’s wonderful to have you back from you latest adventures, sharing another lovely blog experience with us. 🙂
      – Thank you kindly.

      >see you soon. 🙂
      – You got it! 🙂

      Kate

      Like

      Comment by For you, Daddy! — Tuesday, 1 May 2012 @ 11:51 pm |Reply

  2. Wow, Small Baby Madam,

    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Seriously.

    You are one of the most thoughtful, caring people I’ve met, virtual or in person. I know that doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but what I said, I can feel in your writing. In that, you’re no poseur.

    I completely share your philosophy about treating everyone with the same dignity and respect, and it’s obvious that you do that on a daily basis. That’s why God smiles on you from heaven. Life may not always be what you want, but you will be rewarded.

    I would love to meet your Isabella, Dia, and Merlyn, but probably will not get the chance in this life. We all have our own I, D, and M’s, don’t we? You are so fortunate to have them as they are to have you in their lives.

    You have brought such tenderness and complete tightness to your subject of labour; like putting a very pretty bright red bow-of-love on a package. Not the kind of bow you buy in a store, but the kind you make using scissors, to twirl and twist the ribbon.

    Lastly, I knew their was something else very special about you: I am a HUGE shellfish and pork fan as well. Truly. hehehe

    Such a pleasure to be brought in to your world.

    May God grant you a good day, Small Baby Madam!

    PS – Check out the book “Make Your Own Luck” One of the best books I’ve ever read about relationships (business, but it applies to life as well) and really is about what you’ve written. Link: http://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Own-Luck-B-School/dp/0735202249

    Like

    Comment by mj monaghan — Tuesday, 1 May 2012 @ 1:38 pm |Reply

    • >Wow, Small Baby Madam, This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Seriously.
      – *blush* You talkin’ to me?

      >You are one of the most thoughtful, caring people I’ve met, virtual or in person. I know that doesn’t mean you’re perfect,
      – Yes! Thank you! I’m not perfect; no one is. Sometimes when people gush over something I do, I try to gently remind them that I’m not just effervescence and fragrance. I also snarl and scratch. It upsets me when they refute that side of me.

      >I completely share your philosophy about treating everyone with the same dignity and respect, and it’s obvious that you do that on a daily basis.
      – I try. Literally two days ago, I met a neighbour, Agnelo, who chatted with me briefly. I enquired about his wife, Elaine. I knew Elaine’s parents and younger sister, Celia. All three have passed away after ailing for a while from different forms of illness.

      In course of conversation, I recollected that Elaine’s family was lovely and Agnelo promptly replied that they were too good for him because he wasn’t as well educated as all of them were. Oh MJ, he got a dressing down right there on the sidewalk.

      “Do you think God cares about how educated we are? You have been such a great help to Elaine when her parents and Celia suffered. How many others would do what you have done? Above all, Elaine chose you as her husband and her family embraced you*, so the world with its petty mentality can take a frakkin’ hike.”

      *He moved in with them.

      Agnelo was so touched to hear that, he clutched my hand and nodded wordlessly. He managed to mumble ‘Thank you’ before both of us walked away awkwardly.

      >That’s why God smiles on you from heaven.
      – I don’t know why He does, but I know He does. 🙂

      >Life may not always be what you want, but you will be rewarded.
      – I’m learning that now.

      I encountered some personal difficulties about 4 years ago. But it’s only now that I’m learning why I was take down that road. And boy, am I grateful for what I’ve learned!

      >I would love to meet your Isabella, Dia, and Merlyn, but probably will not get the chance in this life.
      – Are you saying “never”, MJ? My daddy and mummy told me never to say never. 😉

      >We all have our own I, D, and M’s, don’t we? You are so fortunate to have them as they are to have you in their lives.
      – Yes, we all do. And I’m happy to know that you are aware of this. Sometimes people compare themselves to others and covet what others have when all they have to do is take a closer look at their own lives to realise that they are just as blessed, but in other ways.

      >You have brought such tenderness and complete tightness to your subject of labour; like putting a very pretty bright red bow-of-love on a package.
      – Oh, that’s a pretty image!

      >Not the kind of bow you buy in a store, but the kind you make using scissors, to twirl and twist the ribbon.
      – Another lesson I’ve learned in life – it’s not about the gloss and the glitz, but time and effort.

      >Lastly, I knew there was something else very special about you: I am a HUGE shellfish and pork fan as well. Truly. Hehehe
      – Yaay! This missing piece of the puzzle was beginning to rankle big time. 😉

      >Such a pleasure to be brought in to your world.
      – Likewise!

      >May God grant you a good day, Small Baby Madam!
      – Hee hee! To you, too, Big Mike!

      >PS – Check out the book “Make Your Own Luck” One of the best books I’ve ever read about relationships (business, but it applies to life as well) and really is about what you’ve written.
      Link: http://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Own-Luck-B-School/dp/0735202249

      – About what I’ve written? Ah, it must be my go-getter twin. I’m the dawdler. 😉

      Silliness aside, I like reading Self Help books. Will check it out when I’m at the library next.

      I’m not one for buying books because I don’t feel like parting with them after I’ve read them. Keeping every single book I read is just not practical.

      Thanks for your time again, MJ!

      Kate

      Like

      Comment by For you, Daddy! — Tuesday, 1 May 2012 @ 11:59 pm |Reply

  3. You have a heart as big and wide as Montana, Kate! I know that’s goofy – to say the least – but its true.
    It is truly a pleasure to know you; even if it is only through cyberspace.

    Like

    Comment by The Hook — Sunday, 6 May 2012 @ 6:29 pm |Reply

    • >You have a heart as big and wide as Montana, Kate!
      – I’m Hannah Montana!

      >I know that’s goofy – to say the least
      – I’m Goofy!

      >but its true.
      – And yes, it’s true! I’m Montanin’ a goof time with your words because it’s this silly thing I do when I’m embarrassed by praise. But the thrill of being praised is slightly more than the embarrassment. 🙂

      >It is truly a pleasure to know you; even if it is only through cyberspace.
      – Likewise, Señor Hook. Your posts shake me up enough to make sure I don’t fall off the straight and narrow.

      Good to hear that all is well with you and the family. May the “good stuff” only get better for all of you.

      Kate

      Like

      Comment by For you, Daddy! — Sunday, 6 May 2012 @ 11:05 pm |Reply

  4. Hi Kate !
    Isabella, the cook, Dia, the housemaid and Merlyn, your savior are people who made substantive contribution and bravery yet are not recognized. I consider them as unsung heroes worthy of acknowledgement. It is wonderful to know that there are people like you who gives importance to these simple people by recognizing them for the work they do to make one’s life easier and being an “angel” in our life. Cheers to you Kate !

    Like

    Comment by Elvie Mesiona — Saturday, 19 May 2012 @ 12:34 pm |Reply

    • >I consider them as unsung heroes worthy of acknowledgement.
      – That is true! It is exactly why I had planned this post for Labour Day. I thought it was fitting that I acknowledge those who help me labour less.

      >It is wonderful to know that there are people like you who gives importance to these simple people by recognizing them for the work they do to make one’s life easier and being an “angel” in our life.
      – Thank you, Elvie. I learned from observing my parents treat this group of people as well as they did everyone else, but I did not truly understand how important they are in our lives or how I could make them feel appreciated until a few years ago.
      Last month, on one of those rare occasions I travel by cab, I had a nice exchange with the cabbie.

      It was very early in the day i.e. 6 a.m. Before I alighted, I paid double my fare because I know for a lot of the older generation or traditional folk, the first business transaction is considered auspicious. A bonus, if you will, is a 100% guarantee for a successful day.

      I told the driver that the double fare was because I was his first client and I hoped that it would be a good start to his day. I was blown away by his reply.

      “Thank you, madam, for speaking to me. My exchanges with most of my passengers are strictly business, but you cared about me as a human being.” Well, Mr.Cabbie, I happened to be in good mood that morning. I joke. But it really does depend on the other person. The previous cab driver was rather brusque, so I skipped him and moved on to this elderly driver who ferried me instead.

      The main thing that we, people, crave is mere acknowledgement. So simple in concept, not so simple to put into practice as we rush around in our own little worlds.

      >Cheers to you Kate !
      – To you, too, Elvie! I’m enjoying all your posts about your trip to the US.

      Kate

      P.S.: My next post is about your beloved Pilipinas. 🙂

      Like

      Comment by For you, Daddy! — Sunday, 20 May 2012 @ 12:32 am |Reply


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