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To teach to learn always

Sometimes I am surprised by what’s happening to me. My husband and I used to go out frequently, either out of town or walking through malls or having lunch with his male friends or entertaining at our home. Then the pandemic came. We found ourselves glued at home. I decided to sort out my beads since, once, I made jewelry. Suddenly I made rosaries. This became a hobby. To this day I make rosaries for sale.

My husband on the other hand was glued to the TV set. He — often we — would watch Rick Steves’ televised travelogues. He enjoyed watching Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley Bassey, a sexy ‘60s singer who sang in her bare feet. This went on for many months until one day he was hospitalized. In retrospect that was the turning point in our lives. That brought us much more quiet that lasted until the pandemic ended.

Suddenly, the weekend markets I loved shopping at reopened. Thanks to the pandemic, now we have a driver only on weekends. But my life still remained quiet. I wasn’t seeing too many of my old friends. On Saturday mornings I would go to market, then to the supermarkets, sometimes to Quiapo to buy beads, calamansi and fruit. This would tire me out and I would spend the rest of the weekend at home.

Except lately, my life has changed. I’ve been seeing more of my relatives more often, making deeper friendships with my Rizal relatives. Then when one of our old friends, Linda Barretto, passed away in Las Vegas, far away from us — someone whom we worked with as part of the Coca-Cola team at McCann-Erickson — we decided to come together for lunch and have some kind of ceremony to remember her. That created magic for us. One of us had turned into a pastor. He handled the ceremony beautifully. I told him I was a Catholic who would never convert but I wanted him to do part of my funeral because he was so wonderful at it. Our friendships, long grown cold, suddenly burst back into flame. Now we are in touch with each other once again.

Once during this past year my Canadian first cousins came into town for their annual visit. I decided to take them to the Happy Garden Café on the first floor of The Sunshine Place for brunch. Of course we stopped by the second floor first to say hello to my old friends there — Gilda, the manager, and Che, her assistant. They were so happy to see me again. Where once I was a twice- or thrice-weekly visitor who exercised and taught there, I had gotten married and turned into smoke. They invited me to teach again. “Okay,” I said, “but I still have many things to do. Maybe I can start in June.”

But May was ending and I knew I wouldn’t make it in June. I went to visit them again.

We decided I would teach writing again in my own inimitable style — which I admittedly imitated from some other foreign writer I admire a lot. My writing course is called “Write About Life,” which is what I do, but always to share lessons I have learned. It will begin on Saturday, July 1, and end on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. The class will be on Saturday afternoons, probably from 1:30 p.m. onwards, depending on the number of students. I require a minimum of five students and a maximum of 10.

Classes will be held at The Sunshine Place on Jupiter Street. If you want to reserve a place please call Che De Vega at 0917-515-5656 for more information.

What made me decide to do this once again now at the ripe old age of almost 79? Life has taught me thousands of lessons, big and small, and I am still learning. I know I will learn until my last breath. What are those lessons for if not to be shared? Readers text me wondering where my column is either because a section of their paper is missing or maybe I didn’t write that week. What makes me so interesting? It is because they see themselves in what I write. They have learned the lessons, too, though perhaps differently. They relate to my stories and this is because I write in the first person.

Why do I do that? If I write in the third person – he/she/it — I must present evidence to prove that it is true. If I write in the second person — you — I could sound accusatory, annoy the person reading because she would never do that. So I write in the first person because it is my experience or sometimes the experience of a friend. But I always make sure there is a universal truth, something that holds true for almost everyone.

What is the universal truth in today’s column? That one writes to teach while another reads to learn… always.

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