Thoughts & Memories:

Changes and Differences

We hear people ask, “What made you different from your brothers and sisters?” Similarities and differences, qualitatively and otherwise, among siblings are noticed when someone is far successful than the rest or pioneered on new business or profession diverse from family tradition.

When one type of business go bankrupt, another type prospers. There is balance in diversification and differences. Every season in life demands different adjustments for us to survive, as every stage requires distinct special talent.

Some families would lack dynamism and color if they profess only one line of thinking and practices. If in politics, they are all conservatives; in business, they’re engaged in restaurants; in profession, all in teaching and in philosophy, all approve of libertarianism or the philosophy on the existence of God. What good will it bring if we are all boxed and labeled the same? What would be the point in having a conversation when in the end you hear only, amen?

Lessons from Humanities and Behavioral Sciences speak with an amount of certainty that individualism come from our nine-month stay inside our mother’s womb with consideration to her mental state and food intake, our experiences either pleasant or unpleasant. People we hero-worship, who inspired us to model ourselves on them, more for outside appearance. The genes we acquired from our parents integrating/interacting with their ancestors and the environment surrounding our existence plays a capital role.

The case of my Muslim friend and classmate in college who gifted me with a “Kris” knife, is worth mentioning. He made me an honorary member of Minsupala (Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan Association). He was Monte, a big man for a Muslim from the south, fair skinned and with no biases and prejudices as to what religion you belong. You can talk to him about religion, that 85% of Catandunganons are Roman Catholic and he will look attentive and interested. Tell him in Catanduanes, every time a family member graduates from college, the father will sponsor a Mass followed by feast and dancing. He enjoys the storytelling and pays attention to additional braggadocios. His friendliness is not common among Muslims toward a non-Muslim. I throw him the question, “Why were you different from your fellow Muslims?” Monte answered, because you look like us, one of us, no kidding. It was his way of opening a conversation. He explained, “I have this very pleasant experience with Igorot families in the Ifugao mountains when we visited and stayed there for months. Their beliefs and practices about gods, anitos and spirits of ancestors, did not make me uneasy. They were happy people and have no problem that we belonged to different religions. I learned more from them to respect, first the person and then his beliefs and religion. We are brothers who started from Adam and Eve. As Tausug Muslim, I came from the most warlike tribe in Mindanao.  Education, abiding to teachings of Koran and meeting friends like you and my stay in the mountain province, made a lot of difference to me.”

His comment that I look like a Muslim didn’t trigger a quiver in me. Calling me like one of them prepared me later for some incidents at NAIA where I correspondingly reacted with propriety. Sometimes at immigration arrival and departure areas, now and then a Muslim passenger greeted me, “As-salaamu Alaikum,” which means “May Peace be unto you.” Muslim passengers even made a follow up of, “Are you a Muslim?” My looks led them to mistake me that I am one. My answer is a smile, and a look expressing a question of “Do I look like one?”

Would you call this pleasant experience, transforming a Catanduganon guy to Tausug warrior-looking person? Wow!

My present day activities of walking, writing and reading alienated me from friends and my siblings. My time is no longer a luxury to dispense with ease. They end up telling me, “You’re not the Arman we came to know”. Because my time is now engaged, I have become a different person (Mahal-mahalon na).

Who are we, anyway? Are we not constantly  making some changes to ourselves, like an Anaconda removing old skin from a new one, to make us who we must every turn of the year?

This year 2021, an amateur writer. How about in 2022?

“The future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera. What will be, will be..,” as sung by Doris Day.

Change is the only permanent thing in this world.

I write and read books to make my day productive. I distance myself from Netflix, NBA and UFC for I find it taxing and not important. Writing is the big change laid by God for me to do since last year. Obedience to the will of God is what I did to find out what’s waiting for me at the end of the rainbow. To be honest, I’d never been for exposition my whole life, only now. For I am a mobile person, always movin’, swingin’ and talkin’. I hate the thought of spending long hours on a chair in the nooks and crannies of our home. Maybe I could be good for some odd jobs but writing? My gosh! Never will it happen. But my attraction to writing is forcing me to dig up in my cranium whether there’s still a space available for writing. Politely, I cannot answer, why I fell in love with writing late in my life? Is this one of the gifts I received when I was born that was concealed for many years? That Lord Jesus Christ made it come out last year, to make me far more useful and rank a little different from dishwasher and errand boy of my dear wife Rose, this time of pandemic?

Are we not living the plan of God for us, and the textbooks call it ‘Individual differences’ and not our destiny? American presidential speechwriter Chris Matthews believed, “We’d be better off if we admitted our differences”.

To those people who helped made my life different and who may read this article goes my thanks a million times. To Robert Manoguid, my kidney donor, to my former students who were kind enough to be attentive in our classes in spite of my shortcomings, fellow college Instructors and professors at CSU and CC who ignored my unpleasantness, friends who made allowances of time to accommodate my bravados, Sir Jorge V. Sarmiento, my model for integrity and humility, the late Gov. Vicente M. Alberto for inviting me to learn meditation, tiyo Pio Gianan of CC for opening to me his home library in Sto Nino, my fellow kagawads of Virac- all fine gentlemen and ladies headlined by ex-kagawad Vir Candelaria and former supervisor kagawad David Tacorda who fondly shared me some of Shakepeare’s rhetorics and famous quotes, one which I cannot forget is, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” I know there are still many kind-hearted persons left for me to say, “Je vous remercie.” I will, in a most opportune time.

Ex-Congressman Jose M. Alberto and others who helped ‘bring home’ Catanduanes State Colleges, now CSU, merited an article expressing our gratitude/tribute for their efforts that brought great changes to people of Catanduanes. We give our hearty salute to honor and respect them and a thoughtful thanks that will endure forever.

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