Thursday, January 26, 2017

My late 2016 review

2016 was a terrible, terrible year for mankind. The citizens of America placed the wrong person in the most powerful seat in the world, and here in the Philippines we failed to elect the most qualified leader our country could have. Current president Duterte might not be performing—or behaving—as most Filipinos would have him perform, but one could argue that Miriam Defensor-Santiago could do so much better at the job. I reckon she might even still be with us today as the presidency would have been her driving force to stay alive.

Santiago wasn't the only famous personality who came to the end of their road in 2016, however. There were Prince, George Michael, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher, among others. Less famous but in no way less significant were the people who lost their lives in the various horrific mass shootings worldwide. And much closer to home, there was Mines. (I've written about the passing away of a former colleague, Cyrill Tan, also last year, here.)

Mines was my best friend in college and I considered her my sister. I knew her family and they lovingly let me into their home, for school projects and for when we simply wanted to hang out after church on Sundays. Mines and I shared a lot of interests and had the same view about many things, one of which was an aversion to constant communication. We love that people keep findings ways to bring everyone closer together through technology (not only can you post a video on Facebook of what you're doing right now, you also have the option to Facebook Live it so your friends can watch you in real time!) but when it came to Mines and me texting, our messages to each other could go unanswered for hours, days even, and it wouldn't be a big deal to us.

I guess that kind of attitude towards technology and constant communication comes with age too. More and more I'm preferring face-to-face conversations over texting and sending cards or gifts over writing greetings or posting photo collages on someone's Facebook timeline for their birthday. More and more, too, I'm realizing that special experiences don't always have to be documented, whether to be later posted online or not, which is why I haven't been recording videos as much for my year-end videos anymore (hence the absence of one for 2016). It's the people with whom I'm having these experiences that matter.

I never thought there would come a day when I'd be comfortable living with someone, but I now am. With my partner and a kitten we had rescued, no less, in a more well-ventilated and spacious apartment which I hope would help make me less sickly this year (I've had several bouts of illness last year, two of them resulting in hospital confinement, one in a minor surgery). I've reconciled with a close work friend I had a major spat with, and my college friends and I have been keeping contact more since Mines' passing. I'm also happy to report that the number of times I visited my family last year is a staggering 4, compared to just 1 or even nil in previous years. Because if there's anything that Mines' death has taught me, it's that life is too short and I wouldn't be living it at all if I weren't cultivating the few true relationships I have.

Back when we were still unemployed, Mines and I would sit under the night sky at Glorietta Park in Makati and talk about this "ugly feeling" weighing on us, this sense that something wasn't right, that we could be doing so much more with ourselves. These days I would still sometimes get that ugly feeling, but it no longer has anything to do with unemployment. My best friend has left me, and there will now and forevermore be that void in my heart that only someone as pure and beautiful a human being as Mines could fill. But at least I had enough of those moments with her where I got to cultivate our relationship. In real life, face to face and disconnected from social media. Now go disconnect and cultivate your relationship with your loved ones too.

A photo posted by J. Faller (@leeflailmarch) on
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