Monday, August 8, 2011


The past weeks have been very life changing for me. Apart from the piling of readings to finish, the synthesis to incorporate in my MA thesis and all the theorizing and analysis, I've also been adjusting on living alone on weekends in our staff house here in Brunei; While Cecil, my best buddy in Brunei, left last week to stay for good in the Philippines, my housemates go back to their hometown on weekends. So, I'm left alone on weekends.

Living alone has its pros and cons. Apart from the goosebumps which I normally get on paranoia, living alone makes me enjoy "me" time; I can freely move in the staff house without hesitations on who is to use the kitchen or who is gonna use the toilet anytime of the day. On one hand, living alone sometimes, and most of the times, gives me the eerie feeling especially if I hear troublesome noise. Thanks to playing a loud music or watching a video at its full volume, I am able to escape the terrors of unexpected and ghoulish sounds.

The past days have been hectic for me; not because of work, but because of meeting a deadline on the submission of my MA Thesis first draft. As of writing, it is due on 15 August. Thankfully, barely breathing, I'm still on track with the research time line.

In a way, being busy makes me cope up with a life inside a metaphorical cave. I feel that living in a staff house on weekends is just someone who is thrown in an island. What's more, apart from the fact that I have no one to talk to, except on chatting with my family which happens on Sunday night, I don't have a car to use at the moment; the company car is "rosak" or in Filipino, "sira." So as much as I want to go out to buy some grocery or simply go "Jalan Jalan" or Lamierda, I just can't. On a bright side, I am able to pay a Filipino guy named Kuya Joe, who has been servicing a vehicle-deprived person like me, to bring me to places such as in the mall to do my grocery and in the church on Sundays. From the staff house to Gadong or to the church, it costs me BND3.00 or 90 pesos. I suppose it's really cheap compared to the legal taxi who may charge you with BND20.00 in one go.

As I was reflecting on living alone, the deprivation of transportation and the colossal work to finish in my MA thesis, I wandered back on the day that I made a wish in the Philippines. On the birthday of my youngest brother last 7 July, my family and I celebrated a special day at the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. Known for it's miraculous and wish-granting imagery, the Our Lady of Manaoag has uplifted a flickering hope upon us.

Guess what's my wish on that day? Read on.

Everyone wishes for something to happen. Everyone wants to achieve something. Everyone wants, possibly, to engage in a dialogue with a Fairy God Mother or with a Genie just to make wishes come true. In my experience at Manaoag, I had an encounter which was more than a wish; it was more of a reflection on life - to where am I heading to.

In general, there is something special how we create wishes in our lives. Wishes have been part of our being ranging from simple thoughts to grand expectations that sometimes hope is to no avail. However, at the end of the day, should wishes do come true or not, there's another day or some time to unfold the crystallization of wants and desires.

In a way, sacrifices and devotion compliment our ways in getting a wish granted. Believing that even a wish would entail hard work and dedication, we stretch our bones and make way to making a wish happen. In our culture as Filipinos, I believe that our notion of a wish is reflected on how we believe in miracles. Despite the arbitrary and unpredictable nature of wishes as relative to longing, expectations and desires, we work hard on either praying or finding a way to unlock the potential of a wish or miracle. As a saying goes, "Nasa Diyos ang Awa, Nasa Tao ang Gawa."

Stepping into the Our Lady of Manaoag church was a rewarding experience. Bearing the four-hour drive down to Pangasinan and a few stop-overs while pacifying hunger with some biscuits and water, reaching the old yet miraculous place was an experience to remember. Along the time traveled, it is devotion that fueled the enthusiasm to pray and hope for a wish to happen.
The exterior
The interior
The bullet-proof shrine!

We went to the Our Lady of Manaoag Church in celebration of my youngest brother's birthday. Apart from a travel full of joys and laughters, a visit to the shrine was filled with high hopes, prayers and wishes.  In my case, the encounter was more than uttering a prayer to the beloved Lady of Manaoag, but it is more of a thanksgiving for all the blessings I've been receiving for the past years. On top of my conversation with God, I  wished for guidance on whatever decision that I will make this year.

It is interesting to visit the Shrine of our  Lady of Manaoag.  Apart from lighting symbolical candles and seeing how people utter their prayer, the church is also transformed into a tourist spot where everyone goes gaga in having their picture taken. Our family is not exempted in the gesture. However, what's more exciting is the thought on how would the Lady of Manaoag could absorb all the wishes of the locals and tourists. Imagine, in a day, thousands of wishes could be thrown in thin air.

The ceiling where wishes bounce!

I was one of those individuals who threw some wishes. As always, I wished for good health and happiness for me and my family. I also wished something which I can't say here (Secret!). On top of the wishes, I dreamed of achieving what I've been working hard for the past years; that is to finish my MA degree and graduate, soon. As of the moment, I think that my wish is set to happen, hopefully!

The wish of my brother came true days before I left Manila!

The birthday boy and me

Now that whenever I'm alone or I find tranquility in a place, I can't help but think of our visit to Manaoag. Especially now that I feel I'm becoming impatient, I've always wanted to come back on the day I released my wishes and let the heavens heard it. Positively, I have hopes that I just have to be patient on making my way toward achieving what I've set. However, there are things that I can't control and I can only hope for a wish.
In the fountain area
Eight Candles for Wishing

Our Family

So what is my wish? Sa totoo lang, wish ko ay magkatotoo ang "wishes" ko - lipat work, grumaduate, love life, at kung anu ano pa. At gaya ng sabi ni Eugene Domingo, Lord, don, don ka mag-concentrate.

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