Monday, March 16, 2015


The note came at the exact moment when I needed it most.

I had just finished interviewing a source and before that a series of unfortunate events had been piling up that were trying my psyche. I happened to be on the 22nd level balcony of the source's office. We had a more than pleasant conversation; the source was frank, open, genial. Once my responsibility was over, I stepped out the balcony overlooking Manila Bay to have some quiet time.

And then IT came again--the urge to meld with the elements, with the setting sun, with the late afternoon breeze. All I had to do was lean low over the ledge, and that would have done it. Something held me back, a tiny voice that said, "All shall be well. Have patience. Give life a chance."

I heeded it, went back inside the source's office and bid the people present, including a secretary and a marketing person, a polite goodbye.

When I got home, I lay down for some minutes on my bed without removing the covers, rested, allowed my nausea for life to subside a bit, showered (that always helps, a cold shower!) and returned to my "home office". I checked my email and the first item I noted in the inbox was this note attached to an email sent by F. Sionil Jose. He used to be "Frankie" to me until he turned 90 and I had to switch to "Manong."

His note (or what I could make out of his penmanship) read:

"My dear Babeth, I just got Hermie's PEN Journal and I have just finished your personal essay Roots/Flight. It's beautiful, evocative, profound and sincere--poetic in parts and so spiritually revealing of the Babeth who goes around in baduy dress. You are a brilliant writer, Babeth. Of course, I've known this from way back but all the virtues are now coming out in middle age! It's both roots and flight and there's no contradiction here. It's in our being human, but we sleep in the knowledge until we wake up as artists! Manong Frankie"

I broke down in hot tears. I will never doubt again that there is a Force, an unseen Source that steadies the wobbly. It isn't Manong Frankie. It's something greater!
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