Achieving Happiness

October 13, 2009

Turning 34 and 1.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:46 am

Her_Fearful_Symmetry_A_Novel-60922 I’ turned 34 yesterday. It’s strange how I don’t feel a day like it.

I suppose it’s because I don’t feel that I have changed much through the years. I’ve read somewhere that after a certain age, people are fully formed: their essential beliefs, their fears and deepest worries, the way they react to moments of bliss or woe will never again be a surprise. They are  who they are, and what remains of the potential for change can only be realized in increments. Most possibly, in sudden bursts of creativity, and  during great emotional upheavals that necessitate radical and immediate personal transformation all in the name of survival.

I feel the same way I did when I was 27. I think that was the age when I stopped aging inside. Or if I did age, it was a graceful process and intangible. The birth of  my baby daughter made me feel closer to complete, but in no way does motherhood make me feel old. I am  sometimes exhausted, but always, always  happy; do I ever feel old? No.

If anything, I feel younger. Kimiko gives me reason to be less adult in the sense that I am again more in touch with my childlike side. She marvels at the most ordinary things — the Columbia sports water bottle with its red tinge, the way spoons fit together when stacked one on top of the other, the CD player – and I can’t help but marvel along with her. It’s simply impossible to not see the world through her eyes when she’s happy; as if the world was a mostly happy place.

For a few hours, I can ignore the way the rest of the world weeps; I can pretend to be oblivious to the way injustice gnaws away at what hope we try to build; and afterwards, as I watch her sleep and dream (her pudgy legs sometimes kicking as they are splayed across the bed, as if she was playing soccer), I can resolve to be stronger.

In a way, Kimiko’s birth was also my birthday, because with her birth,  I was also reborn.  So I have two birthdays now; I am both 34 years old and 1.


The image above is the cover of author Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel. It’s what I wanted for my birthday, but I made the wish for it too late as loved ones had already bought gifts (books pa rin, sheesh).

Anyway, I’m saving up for a copy (sadly, it’s not cheap, and I don’t think Booksale will be selling any for years yet. The book was released only October 1 or thereabouts), and if by the end of the month there’s enough left over, Powerbooks here I come!

It’s hard to write about what’s happening in the Philippines. There are no more words to describe the grief and the agony, the level of despair. The landslides in Benguet and Baguio, the massive flooding in Pangasinan have left more people homeless, helpless; many have been killed and in the most painful way: being swallowed by mud, being buried alive in the earth that suddenly weakened and collapsed. It’s a collective nightmare that many will not be waking up from.

What’s worse is that there is a considerable amount of certainty that the tragedies could have been avoided. The landslides were set off the strong rains; but what made the earth more susceptible?

Mining and deforestation. The stubborn greed of local governments and mining and logging concessions have resulted in this. And now our children are paying. And we will all continue to pay for decades more unless we begin rebuilding now and in the right way by putting an end to open pit mining and illegal logging and slash and burn techniques of clearing forests and other areas for infrastructure building.

Is it too late? No. It’s never too late.We are paying with the blood and lives of our children and our loved ones for the mistakes of our daily living and our indifference or our willful refusal to heed the warnings nature has given us. And we will continue to pay in more valuable coin beyond lost property and homes if we do not change the kind of government and the kind of system in place now. Hundreds of thousands have no food, water, adequate shelter. Children are falling ill left and right.

Through all this, the government is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Now there’s a report saying that  dsaster-preparedness officials warned Defense Secretary and presidential wanna-be Gilbert Teodoro about how there was the strong possibility that there would be widespread flooding this year. Teodoro, however, fudged, and  did not act quickly on purchasing life-saving equipment like rubber boats.

I suppose it  sounds a bit corny to say, but I guess it is important that we must all live more aware now — aware of what we can do to make the Philippines a better place to live in, and in that way contribute to efforts to heal the planet. It’s all interconnected, likes strands of a spiderweb= the kind of government we have, the policies it implements; how we live and respond to these policies, how we take an active (or inactive) role in the way society moves forward (or not).

I was never an environmentalist in the sense that I proclaimed it as my personal advocacy, but I have always been concerned about the earth and the catastrophies that have been happening: ice bergs melting when they had no business doing so; ozone layer depletion; water pollution, air pollution, the damage caused by open pit mining.  Now, well, I guess I should pay even more attention and write more about these issues if I could (in the professional way, I mean, not just here where I’m mostly rambling).


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