Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

To all the women of the world

Posted on March 10, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – March 10, 2019 – 12:00am
Last Friday was International Women’s Day all over the world. I have lately been thinking of all the women that have somehow affected me and shaped me as a man.

They have inspired me, broken my heart, served me, enslaved me emotionally, hurt me as I have hurt them, seduced me and pleased me as I have done with them, taken care of me, raised me, intimidated me, taught me life lessons only women can teach, educated me, refined me, shaped much of my values, and elevated my tastes in many ways.

For all of the above and more, I admire and adore women. And I salute them.

My mother Ester Misa gave life to me. She had 10 children. I was the ninth. She was a beautiful mestiza who knew how to take charge. She was both soft and hard. Her embrace and reassuring words were more than enough to make me feel all was right with the world. To a son, a mother’s love is the most wonderful thing there is. Mom was a teacher, protector, nurturer, and the hearth of all things reassuring and beautiful. At the same time, she was tough when it came to defining moral character, which she wanted to instill in us. She was extremely honest, responsible and modeled adulthood in the best possible way. She showed courage of conviction, forgiveness, compassion, extreme generosity with the little resources that she had. She took in strangers who needed help. She had very few vanities.

She was very practical and strict at the same time. I once wrote a song called Basic Love that was about her. I described her as uncomplicated, straight-talking and pure. What you saw was what you got.

Our yaya, Ustang Baje, a sweet, caring, loving Ilocana from Abra, Bangued who liked to smoke cigars, attended to us sibs when we were kids. She cooked for us, bathed us, and kept us close to her so we stayed within her orbit of safety. She told us stories. She loved to laugh out loud. As a young boy, the smell of Vicks and cigars defined her reassuring presence to me. I remember sleeping beside her in a banig, and just being beside her was such comfort. She was pure love.

The woman I married is Lydia Mabanta. We dated, and fell in love even before we knew it. When she left for the US to study, I thought my world would fall apart. I called her by phone and asked her to come home to marry me. She was 20 years old and I was 25 when we marched down the altar 42 years ago. We have grown together and I must say that a great lot of what I know about how a woman thinks and feels I learned from her. She continues to both baffle and thrill me to this day. She is both yin and yang. For men, marriage is a life-long course on understanding, loving and appreciating a woman. In a big sense, it is a man’s surrender to fate. Through thick and thin, for richer or poorer till death do us part. Amen.

Lydia is my wife, companion and partner for life. She is loving, caring and a great mom and lola. We have experienced the whole spectrum of emotions together and have been each other’s teacher. We love, laugh, cry, fight, and continue on the path we took decades ago. Oftentimes, when I look back at fights we have had, I liken it to sandpaper that we apply on each other to smoothen our rough edges into something more defined and more beautiful.

I have four sisters — Babsy, Tictac, Meiling and Lory. They are all older than I am. From them, I learned a lot about young women. I saw young men visit and court them. I witnessed them having boyfriends and from them I learned how they wanted to be treated. I’ve seen men appreciate them and also break their hearts. It was educational for me to hear their points of view about what made someone a good man or woman. Everything I heard from them taught me to respect all kinds of women, whatever they were or where they came from. Sexism had no place in our family.

I have had women teachers who taught me well and helped me discover talents I never knew I had. I remember Miss Sandoval, my teacher in Grade 4. She chose me to represent the class in an elocution contest. I was initially mortified. I had no confidence at all. Daily, she taught me how to deliver the piece with the right enunciation, subtext and force. I ended up winning first prize, much to my surprise and delight. There is nothing more encouraging when a woman believes in you. It was life changing.

To the girlfriends I loved and who loved me back, to those who broke my heart, I learned how to be brave and risk loving and when the time came, face the pain and recover from the loss. I actually learned a lot about myself. I couldn’t have been the man I became without having my heart broken a few times.

I have two daughters who are now mothers. They gave me much to worry about when they were growing up in a world that was changing too fast. I raised them without a rear-view mirror. I did not know then if I was too liberal with them. Much to my relief, they have grown to be beautiful, wonderful, independent and strong women. I know they will impact the world in their own ways.

Women hold up half of the world and yet they are underpaid, abused and disrespected many times. To all the women of all shapes, sizes, sexual preferences and races all over the world, let me express my deep respect, love, admiration and gratitude for being the more loving and enlightened half of humanity. I am with you in your march to equality and liberation.

It is very possible that, as a man, I may never really understand the depth of women’s pain, their thinking process, the phases they go through as human beings and everything else unique about them. I am 67. My education about women continues and will never stop. And that’s how it should be.

In my life, my muses have been mostly women. They are Goddesses in my life that keep me inspired, fascinated and forever creative. I can only be eternally grateful.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/03/10/1900029/all-women-world#jJhUvu8JHeKoD6sS.99

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