Mar 15

Where else but in a song!

Today’s “Lolo’s Nirvana – Prompt” for song lovers. … Title: WHERE ELSE BUT IN A SONG! … … … MICHELLE, our heroine, a woman in love, with a green-Spanish eyes, left her heart in San Francisco – where one could see Tony B. by the bay. Leaving on a jet plane after saying goodbye to love, her flight seemed from here to eternity because she was hopelessly devoted to love. It was MISTY APRIL IN PARIS when she landed. And the autumn leaves were softly blowing in the wind. … … … DANNY BOY, our hero, came along – to catch the cloud and pin it down. In other words, to dream the impossible dream; to fight the unbearable sorrow that happened in Monterey a long long time ago when he was seventeen. Born in New Orleans at the house the call – House of the rising sun – left for Monterey when he was ten. All by himself, left for Chicago – Frank S.’s hometown at seventeen to get away from Candida, his first love. It wasn’t an affair to remember but more like an act of – fools rush in. He was one of many poor boy who received an amazing grace turning rags to riches. For a well deserve vacation, he chose April in Paris over Vacation in Las Vegas. … With arms wide open, he welcomed the whole new world offered by the city. Walking on the bridge over troubled water had no reason at all. It was like a day in the life of a fool, such as he, for allowing the stormy weather in his life to get under his skin. HONESTY involved, felt certain it was over. .. … … AT THE FOOT OF THE BRIDGE was a street of sorrow – the boulevard of broken dreams. Suddenly, a beautiful figure appeared hidden by the heavy rain like Van Gogh’s perhaps love, where shadows of the hills covers the trees and daffodils. … … … MICHELLE & DANNY BOY, both a stranger in paradise met. … … … ABRACADABRA – it was a fascination for both. Danny Boy who was carrying an umbrella said, “Hello! I know it’s not me you’re looking for, but share my umbrella for raindrops keep falling on your head.” … Michelle, who was crying in the rain hesitated. But her thoughts played on – this could be Humprey B.’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She accepted the offer and said,”Thank you! Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you!” … … … “Come!” said Danny. “Come closer to me and put your head on my shoulder or you’re gonna get really wet.” He noticed the teardrops falling from Michelle’s eyes were like tiny bubbles in the like of silver moon. With lovely tenderness he kissed her, and she kissed him back. … OOH LA LA – that was Dean M’s AMORE at first sight. They couldn’t help falling in love. … … … “I don’t want to wait for the next teardrops to fall. And, I don’t want to sleep alone tonight,” said Michelle. Danny Boy answered,”The bed in my Yacht has one pillow. We could share the pillow that I slept on, and … … … They lived happily ever after, for where else but in a song.

Jan 05

Home and Chosen Land

It was around noon time. The sky was clear and sunny. The day was a Friday, on the seventeenth of March of 1972. The Boeing 747 owned by Air Canada landed safely at Vancouver International Airport fully loaded with passengers from different places. Among them were twenty-five Filipino immigrants that Dolph de Villa was aware of, and he was one of them. The flight from Manila International Airport was smooth all the way. And the airline service was great. The only disappointment that he had was that his seat was in the middle of the middle aisles. The view of the greater Vancouver area from the air would have been a breathtaking sight. He didn’t have the choice because his plane ticket came with the visa.
Dolph worked for his visa last year, and got it on that same year. He was thirty-two years old. He weighed one-hundred-thirty-pounds – skinny, but energetic with lots of stamina. He didn’t have any medication. His only health problem was – he would catch cold easily.
At the immigration booth, the officer asked Dolph all sorts of questions including his final destination which was Newfoundland. The Officer forgot to ask him how much money he had with him. Dolph wondered if he would have been in big trouble if he did, because he only had twenty U.S. Dollars instead of three hundred as stated in his visa. The Officer was very nice and friendly. Dolph didn’t hesitate to ask if he could stay in the city for at least a week to visit some friends. Dolph lied. He didn’t know anybody. And the worst part was – he didn’t know where to go and what to do as soon as he got out of the airport. The Officer replied, “Once you have reached your Port of Entry, you can go anywhere in Canada.” That was true at the time, but later on, an immigrant had to stay for at least six months at the final destination before being allowed to live anywhere in Canada.
“Thank you Officer!” said Dolph.
“You’re welcome! And welcome to Canada!” He said those words with such pleasant expression on his face. And the tone of his voice had that kind of warmth with deep meaning as though the people and the country of Canada was the one talking. The memory of that brief encounter stayed with Dolph all through these years.
Dolph left the booth carrying his luggage and joined the rest of the immigrants gathered on one corner of the immigration area. Not more than three minutes had passed when an elegantly dressed and good looking middle aged woman came. Few feet behind her was a panting man of about thirty years old. Dolph noticed that the man was very tense about something. Then the woman spoke to the group. “My name is Julie. One of my jobs with the immigration department is to give orientation to new immigrants. Those of you who are staying in Vancouver please follow me.”
It wasn’t until years later that Dolph realized that the invitation didn’t include him for he was just in transit.
The group started walking towards the exit door. The panting man rushed towards the orientation representative and whispered something. “Dolph de Villa, where are you?” Julie shouted.
Dolph raised his hand and answered, “Here!”
“Please follow this man.”
Dolph approached the man and said, “Yes?”
“Where is your luggage?” the man asked.
“This!” said Dolph, and showed him the bag that he was carrying.
“No! No!” the man said. “I mean your luggage, not your hand carry.”
“Well, this is it.”
“Oh, well!” said the man. “Come follow me, we’ll have to make it quick or you’ll miss your plane.”
“What plane?”
“Your destination is Newfoundland, right?”
“Yes! But I am not going there, I’m staying here.”
“No, you can’t do that. You have to take the plane.”
“The immigration officer said that I could stay here in Vancouver.”
“If you don’t want to go, I’ll take your luggage.”
“Go ahead,” said Dolph in a very strong voice for he hated being threatened.
The man walked away with his carry-on luggage. Dolph went back to where he left the group. They were gone and Dolph couldn’t find them. He headed towards the exit hurriedly hoping to find them but to no avail. Then he heard a familiar voice – “Dolph! Dolph! Dolph!” it was his first cousin Es Cole.
Es was five years younger than Dolph. She immigrated to the U.S.A. and settled in Seattle, Washington in 1971. Her status as a Dentist in the Philippines wasn’t accepted. She decided to work part time as a Dental Assistant and enrolled at Washington University to upgrade her status at same time. Dolph phoned her a month before he left for Canada to meet him in Vancouver. The exchange of pleasantries was short because she noticed that Dolph wasn’t carrying anything except for his shoulder bag. “Where’s your luggage?” she asked.
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you in the car.” explained Dolph. “Are you driving your Maverick?”
“Oh, I forgot about Eddie, my driver,” she exclaimed, and looked around for him. Eddie was watching them from about ten paces away. Es raised her right hand and waved for Eddie to come closer.
Eddie came walking briskly.
“Eddie, this is he – Dolph de Villa. Dolph, this is Eddie Funta, the elder brother of Deanna – one of my best friends in Seattle.” She proudly introduced them to each other.
Eddie asked Dolph about his luggage while they exchanged hands. Es interrupted, “He’ll tell us in the car.”
They started walking towards the exit door. Then Es turned to Dolph and asked, “Where to?”
“I have no idea Es,” said Dolph – scratching his head.
“Ha?” uttered Es. “We better talk about this over a cup of coffee.”
“There’s one over there,” exclaimed Eddie, pointing at the nearest Cafeteria.
Seated and sipping their coffee, they discussed all options. The best one came from Es. Dolph could stay with Es in Seattle for the weekend, and Eddie could drive him back to Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. Es and Eddie weren’t sure if Dolph would be allowed to cross the border. But anyway, they decided to try it.
Out of the terminal building, Eddie heard Dolph murmuring with both arms wrapped around his skinny body. “Are you cold Dolph?” asked Eddie.
“There’s something wrong with this place,” answered Dolph.
“What’s that?”
“They installed the air conditioning the wrong way. In Manila it’s inside the building, here – outside.”
Es, was listening, joined them in laughing and said, “Wait ’till winter comes, then tell me.”
They reached the car and hopped in for the US border at Peace Arch. Es and Eddie tried their best in explaining Dolph’s situation to the border Officer who firmly said, “No!”
On the way back to the car, Es looked more worried and disappointed than Dolph.
“Now what,” Eddie asked.
“Let’s go back to the airport. Dolph might be allowed to fly to Seattle instead,” said Es, worriedly.
At the ticket counter, the answer was the same -“No!” Persistence and perseverance failed to materialize.
“It’s your call Dolph,” said the concerned Es.
“I had been in similar situations on numerous times when I was traveling around in the old country, and I was able to get by. I wonder if it will work here. That is my only option for now, if it doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else,” Dolph said it with confidence. “When I passed my medical examination for immigration, I did my homework about Vancouver and the neighboring areas. My notes, records and maps are in my hand carry bag. But I remember that the YMCA is somewhere in Burrard Street. My first move is to stay there for two days. Then on Sunday after mass, I’ll hang out at the main entrance to ask Filipino churchgoers where I could find a place to stay – permanently or temporarily. I’m sure I’ll find one.”
“Seems logical,” commented Eddie.
“Okay, let’s look for the YMCA,” said Es.
They found the place and Eddie parked the car two buildings away. At the check-in counter, Dolph was given the choice – he chose the cheapest room, the five dollars a day. Es paid for Dolph’s two days stay which was ten dollars.
“I only have fifty dollars with me. Here’s twenty dollars,” said Es and handed the money to Dolph.
“Thank you so much Es,” said Dolph with gratitude. And turning to face Eddie, “and to you as well Eddie for driving me around.”
Eddie offered Dolph twenty dollars but Dolph refused and said, “I’ll be fine with this twenty from Es, thanks!”
“It’s getting dark, we have to go,” said Es. “Call me collect anytime. And let me know as soon as you find a place to stay. Meanwhile, I’ll ask my friends in Seattle if they know anybody here.”
“I’ll do the same,” Eddie butted in.
Dolph was about to walk them over to their car, but Es and Eddie said, “It’s all right Dolph, this place is still too cold for you.”
“Are you heading back straight to Seattle from here?” Dolph asked.
“Yes, we are and you take care now,” Es said.
“Good luck, Dolph,” said Eddie.
“Drive safely,” Dolph replied.
In the middle of the following year, Eddie was side swiped on his way to work. He died in the hospital few days after the accident. He missed the marriage of his eldest sister, Deanna, the only girl out of three siblings, to Dolph’s half-brother, Nerio Rani.
Es got her license to practice dentistry in Washington five years later.
Three days later, Dolph moved to a house owned by Manong and Manang Garcia, a Filipino couple, in the eastside of Vancouver. His rental arrangement was – live now and pay later. He occupied the basement suite with two single guys, both were Filipino. His food arrangement with these guys was – he’ll do the cleaning of the place, do the laundry and cooking.

The Garcia’s owned three houses in that area, and one was being renovated. In return for their goodness, Dolph sacrificed some of his time looking for a job to help in the renovation.

Dolph got his luggage back two weeks later with the help of Manang who phoned the airline on the first day he moved in.

Seventeen days later, Dolph found a job he was looking for – one that suited his present situation – as a land surveying draftsman. With the help of the owner, Vernon Goudal, who was also the president, as a guarantor, Dolph got his first car, a Volkswagen, a month later.

Dolph went to the City of Port Coquitlam on a Friday, March 31, and was interviewed by Vernon who hired him on the spot. He was to report to work on Monday. He left the office very happy, forgetting that he didn’t have money for a bus fare back to Vancouver which would take an hour. He was standing about twenty feet away from the bus stop trying to decide whether to walk or to hitch a ride. Hitchhiking was something that he hadn’t done before. After about ten minutes of deliberation, he decided to raise his right thumb.

Walking back and forth on the spot where he was standing – three buses stopped and went; quite a number of private cars passed by which he lost count of. Some gave him the bird, some blew their horn. With no luck and it was getting dark, he decided to start walking toward Vancouver. He had been walking for half an hour when a muddy pick-up truck slowed down and the driver asked him if he needed a ride. Dolph hurriedly got inside the truck. “We’re going somewhere in downtown Vancouver. Can we drop you somewhere along the way?” asked the driver.

“I live close to 15th avenue and Oak, but downtown is good,” said Dolph.
“You’re not a native, are you?” the driver asked.
“No, I’m not,” Dolph answered.
“Where are you from?”
“Philippines.”

“A Filipino! How nice,” said the driver, “I am Todd and this here, is Rick. We are lumberjacks and we just came from the bush to paint the town red.”
“My name is Dolph, and I just got a job as a draftsman at the city where you picked me up.”

“Are you hungry Dolph?” asked Todd.
“Not really,” said Dolph.
“There is a diner over there, frequented by truckers,” said Rick.
“You go ahead, I’ll wait for you in the car,” said Dolph.
“I knew you are broke, otherwise you won’t be hitching for a ride,” said Todd. “It’s my treat, Dolph.”
“Thank you,” said Dolph.

Dolph woke up at 11:00 a.m. the following morning with extreme stomach ache. He was making coffee when Manang came down and said, “Don’t bother making coffee and breakfast, I made some for you.”
“I don’t think I can eat anything. My stomach is hurting,” said Dolph.
“Come with me upstairs, I’ll give you something.”

Dolph was waiting for Manang in their kitchen when Manong came. “Manang said that you were drunk last night and now you have a stomach ache. It happened to me a number of times before,
and I found that the best cure was to have another shot of alcohol – whiskey or beer,” said Manong. “There’s some beer in the fridge, help yourself.”
Manong was right.

“We were worried about you yesterday,” said Manang. “You left before noon although your interview was at 4:30 p.m. and you came home past midnight. We thought you took the wrong bus and ended up in Kelowna. And, who were those two big guys who dragged you inside and laid you in your bed?”

“I missed the bus twice because I wasn’t familiar with how the place was pronounced by the bus announcer over the speaker. In addition, the bus depot was so noisy because of the big crowd,” explained Dolph. “Then I took the wrong bus and ended up in Chilliwack, and I had to get back here to get the right bus.

I arrived at my interview fifteen minutes past 5:00 p.m. and it was nice for Vernon, the boss, to wait for me. He told me that he knew that I’m going to be late because of my situation. However, I got the job.”

“Good for you Dolph, congratulations,” said Manang with Manong tapping Dolph’s shoulder.

“From Vernon’s office I went to the bus stop. it was then I realized that I only have ten cent left. So, I hitched a ride back. Those guys – Todd and Rick – picked me up. When Todd found out that I was a Filipino, he treated me for a nice dinner. “Let’s just have one bottle of beer here then let us go to three striptease barS,” said Todd.

“Why three striptease barS?” retorted Rick. “We could get drunk with one.”

“I would like to celebrate three things: First, Dolph’s coming to Canada. Second, Dolph’s joining the work force. Third, my luck after two years of searching to pay off my debt,” said Todd.

“I understand the first two reasons, but I don’t with the last one,” said Dolph.

“Welcome to Canada, Dolph,” said Rick.
“Thanks, Rick,” said Dolph. “And, to you Todd, to both of you for making me feel welcomed here in this country.”

“Three years ago, I had a job related accident which almost killed me. I was hospitalized for a year. Irene, the nurse that took care of me was very nice – understanding, gentle, kind and very pretty and charming, among other things,” explained Todd. “Remember that Rick?”

“Yes, I owe you my life. I would have been killed if you didn’t push me away from the falling tree.” said Rick.

“I’m sorry Rick, I really didn’t want to mention it, I was just carried away to explain to Dolph.” said Todd. “You know Dolph, I did all I could to find Irene for the last two years to show my appreciation and gratitude for the special attention that I received during that time.”

“So, when Todd found out that you are a Filipino, he paid some of his debt to Irene through you,” explained Manang.

“It seems like so, and you know what Manang? I found thirty dollars in my pocket this morning. I am sure it was them who put it there,” said Dolph.

“They are one of many nice people here in Canada, and you are lucky to have met them for it gave you the right first impression needed by new immigrants,” said Manong.

“It is Saturday. Dinner at six o’clock, and this time stay after dinner and learn how to dance. My young nurses would be happy to teach you. They said so many times. You don’t have to seat in front of the typewriter anymore,” Manang explained.

“I’ll return your typewriter later, and the bedding that you loaned me, tomorrow,” said Dolph.

“Keep the bedding,” said Manang.
“Thanks, Manang,” said Dolph. “I like to travel light.”
Dolph stayed after dinner to watch the girls dancing for he didn’t have any reason to go down in the basement anymore.

When the rock and roll music started all the girls stood up and danced with each other as always. Except for one who approached Dolph and pulled him by the hand to the middle of the dance floor. When Dolph started dancing, the girls stopped and shouted, “Dolph is a cheater, Dolph is a cheater.”
The commotion brought Manang and Ma
nong who were in the kitchen to the dance floor, likewise their three children.
“Why didn’t you tell us that you can dance?” asked Dolph’s partner.
“I was busy.”
“I’m sure you know a lot of dances. What about the hardiest one, the tango?”
“Play the music and we’ll see,” said Dolph.
The girls didn’t allow Dolph to take a break, not even to finish his coffee. They asked him to join them again next time. “I’m leaving tomorrow for my work station in the City of Port Coquitlam,” said Dolph.

“You cheated us Dolph,” said all six of them.
Dolph arrived in Port Coquitlam on the following day at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon with the thirty dollars he got from Todd and Rick in his wallet, less one dollar for bus fare. He saw a hotel right in front of the bus stop where he got off. He checked in for one night, left his luggage with the hotel clerk and took off to look for a place to stay close to the office where he would be working. He came across an old two story building – the first level was a Chinese restaurant and the second level seemed like a residential floor. He went inside the restaurant and found the place empty except for one Chinese man at the counter. He ordered a cup of coffee and asked the man if he knew a room for rent. “Try upstairs,” said the man.

He finished his coffee, and went upstairs where he was met by Ray Tang, the head of the household and the owner of the building. Dolph explained his purpose and Ray said that they had two adjoining rooms for rent. Ray called his wife, Mei, and they discussed the rental arrangement. Ray hesitated to accept Dolph’s idea of ‘live now pay later.’ Ray and Mei argued in Chinese language, but Dolph could guess that Mei was in favor of Dolph’s idea, and Ray gave in. She asked about food arrangements, which was interpreted by Ray because she didn’t speak English. Mei spoke in Chinese with the universal language of hand movement, said, “How can you work if you don’t eat?” Dolph settled with breakfast only. And, he would move in on the next day after work. Ray was about sixty years old and spoke English with British accent, while Mei was about fifty years old.

Dolph went back inside the restaurant and ordered another cup of coffee. “How did it go?” the man asked. “Oh! I’m Jimmy.” Extending his hand for a handshake, Dolph reached for it and said, “I’m Dolph.”

Dolph told Jimmy his arrangement with the Tang family. “If you’re in need of extra money, work for me to deliver food around town,” said Jimmy.
“I’ll let you know,” said Dolph. “I’ll see how it goes with the surveying office first.”

Monday came. Vernon introduced Dolph to the whole staff, and showed him the whole set-up of the office. “Your work for today is on top of your desk beside your drafting table. See me if you have any questions.”

Dolph was familiar with the work given to him because the technical textbooks in school were American versions. Dolph was producing good quality drawings and with above average speed which in return gave considerable money rewards. Dolph was happy with his performance, so was Vernon.

Three months later, Dolph’s family arrived. He augmented his salary by working for Jimmy on weekends, but it wasn’t enough for his growing family.

One year and two months passed. Dolph secretly started looking for another job for financial reasons. He didn’t tell Adana or Vernon about it. He found a job in Kamloops as a construction surveyor. Then he told Vernon about his new job without bargaining for a higher pay, because he knew that Vernon would not agree because it would affect the salary of the whole technical staff. When Dolph told Adana about his new job, she suggested that they should look for a place close to a Catholic Church and elementary school. They found one east of Vancouver.

Dolph’s resignation was accepted by Vernon with no ill feelings.
Dolph and his family moved to Vancouver before he left for Kamloops.

Jan 05

The Cycle of Life

One walks upon the ground,
rocks and pebbles roll and tumble stops to fill a hole.

One digs upon the earth,
disturbs the worms and bugs and everything around.

One climbs atop a tree,
leaves and branches drop and fall to fill a ditch.

One swims upon a lake,
water ripples making eddies around, calmness unsettled.

One flies upon the air,
birds and insects scramble, interfere with their freedom to choose.

One dies ,
rocks and pebbles, worms and bugs, leaves and branches,
dead lilies blown by the wind, dead birds and insects,
cover and consume man upon his grave.

This is not nature’s revenge upon man,
it is helping nature to take place.

Jan 05

The Pillar To Lean On

Wedged in the branches of darkness in his wanton and carefree years,
roaming in dark alleys, dancing in dim ballrooms, driving, sailing and
flying to places for no reason at all.

Like troubled water, living a life of ups and downs and no matter where he
turns there was no solid ground. But he carried on with no wish of
changing life’s course.

Time flies – pages of life turn, tired and feeling small, burnt out and
getting old, but if he so desire to carry on, the only recourse is to
find a pillar to lean on.

For whatever reason, good nature acted for the man in distress is not bad
after all but destined to find the reason to live on.

With his last strength he struggled to free himself out of those branches
of darkness. Convinced to burn it to the ground and reckoned never to
return.

Wiser now and cheerful, that the life he longed for will be lined with
flowers in the garden of memories in the years to come … and, more.

The pillar to lean on that he was looking for were the man with virtues of
patience, honesty and perseverance who does not keep record of wrongs
that the man he admires, was never far but just around.

As he lives on with fortitude, and guided by those virtues, his love and
admiration for the man will live forevermore.

Jan 05

The Boulder

I am going to my boulder by the beach to say hello!
Before the high tide hides him away for it pains me to see it so.
Come with me,
he’ll love to hear from you.

I’ll stop by the workshop to pick up a scrapper and a brush to get rid of
barnacles wrapping around his torso. And I’ll gather some flowers along
the way and lay them upon him so he’ll know, that the tears of sadness
that fell upon him two decades ago was replaced by tears of joy.
Come with me,
he’ll feel your loving touch too.

He’ll no longer hear the rumbling of disturbed pebbles and sands beside
him caused by the troubled young man in sorrow, but rather
the voices of two loving people telling him so.
Come with me,
he’ll be happy to know that it is true.

Jan 04

Welcome

Welcome to Rodolfo Cabael’s blog, a new writer willing to share his work.  The entries on this blog are mostly poems and short stories, although Rodolfo is currently working on publishing a short novel.  We welcome you to share your feedback and similar written work.