Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for May 18th, 2006

Courage, honesty, solitude, beauty and greatness 33

Posted on May 18, 2006 by jimparedes

I conquered two fears this last seven days. The first one was driving to the airport. I was trying to wiggle out of it and look for someone to do it for me since we had a visitor who was leaving for Manila and needed to be dropped at Sydney International Airport. Quite frankly, the prospect terrified me. It involves driving on the motorway and many roads I have not driven on before. But as luck would have it, there was no one who could do it and so I reluctantly ‘volunteered’ to drive. And so with my trusted navigator gadget on hand, I boldly got in the car and managed to crisscross through the motorways and drive through the tunnels of Sydney and get to my destination. The only thing that killed me was the parking—19 dollars for 1 ½ hours! Ouch!

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The second challenge was driving to Collaroy to see my sister who is visiting from the US. That is one looong drive but Lydia and I did it! In two cars!! And after seeing the beach, I just had to sigh while appreciating the spectacular vista. On each occasion I was afraid but did it anyway. I wanted to high five life itself! Simple achievements that embolden the timid spirit! We are most alive when we walk the edge!


We as a family have experienced two incidents lately that have impressed upon us a sense of the character of this society. Sometime last week while shopping in a mall, Erica realized that she had left her bag at the food court. Upon discovering this some 30 minutes after, she ran back there to find the people seated where she used to sit telling her that they gave her stuff to the cleaning woman already. She immediately looked for and found the cleaning woman and surprise! She got it pronto, intact with all her money, IDs, credit card, phone and without any hassle.

The second incident involved Mio losing his wallet in a bus ride the other day on the way to school. When he inquired from the driver the next day if anyone had reported finding a wallet, the driver said someone gave it to him and he turned it over to the bus office. Mio can pick it up anytime.

Man, I just love this place. Needless to say both Erica and Mio were very impressed. The other day while shopping, Ananda casually picked up a chocolate candy from the shelf, opened it and started eating. Erica realized belatedly what her daughter had done when she turned around to check on her. And even if no one was there to report it, Erica promptly paid for it in the counter. Tit for tat! Who was it who said about honesty—that it is doing the right thing even if no one is watching?


We’ve been here two months and we still do not have a TV. Sure, we have a tiny one lent to us by a friend that we have hardly turned on. It’s too small to connect a DVD on it. Besides, we also do not have a DVD player yet. When we had just arrived, the kids were quite vocal and insistent about wanting a big TV so they can watch movies. But the longer we went without it, the less the need they had for it. A while ago, I asked Ala whether I should finally get one this coming weekend. She was amused at the suggestion and then said that she honestly doesn’t know. We have not had the distraction that TV used to bring into our lives for two months now. I honestly don’t know whether I should get one. In place of the TV experience, we have good conversation, real talk and after chores and dinner, we all open our laptops and retreat to the internet every night. At least it’s more interactive than just vegging out in front of a box. It’s nice and quiet too.

I’ll probably call a family vote on it tomorrow.


During the time I have been here, I have not seen a single stunning beauty anywhere and I have been looking. I have to admit I don’t really hang around too many places where I will most likely spot some (what those places are, I don’t know). My usual haunts are Woolies, the malls, the train stations and a few other places. I’ve only been to the city twice since I got here. Dito talo ng Pinas ang OZ. In Manila, nagkalat ang mga magaganda. Back home one can spot a stunner almost anywhere. And when I say a stunner, I really mean STUNNER. I still have to see a real Nicole Kidman-like beauty here. Maybe I should hang around the clubs, or the beaches!

And speaking of beaches, one of these months, my dive buddy from Manila is coming over and we are doing Cairns! The Great Barrier Reef has been a dream destination for us for years now. Redford White—yes, he is my dive buddy will hopefully find time in November when the waters are not too frigid to dive and we can do a weekend there. I can’t wait. What OZ lacks in female beauty (compared to Manila. OK, I may still eat my words later), it compensates in marine attractions and I intend to dive in and enjoy them.

Greatness of Spirit!

Lastly, I just have to say that I am immensely thrilled that Filipinos actually succeeded in climbing Mount Everest. These intrepid climbers from the tropics who had only had experience with small mountains and had never seen snow and glaciers dared to dream and won! It affirms my belief that we as a people have what it takes to be great. This is just another proof that we are naturally talented and can succeed in almost anything if we only want to.

During one of the regional games in the past, our billiard champs flew three days before a snooker competition in Singapore to learn to play it, and dominated the games like they invented it! One of our great icons in this game (I won’t say who) was telling me that he had played rooms in Las Vegas where he was pitted against the likes of Minnesotta Fats (in unseeded games of course) and won. The games were sponsored by very rich bettors who liked to watch and bet privately.

There so many other stories I can tell you that illustrate how naturally talented we are. Ang galing ng lahi natin. We just have to get our act together.

One person who stands tall in my pantheon of living heroes is Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga. If you don’t know what GK is, it is a movement to restore the dignity of the Filipino by giving him the chance to own a house he can afford. GK has built thriving communities of proud and hardworking Filipinos where there once were only slums and shanties and people whose spirits were depressed and mired in hopelessness. The APO has done some shows for GK and we talk about GK to our audiences when we do concerts abroad. If you are from Sydney, you may want to know that Tony Meloto will be giving a talk in Blacktown next Monday. If there’s a movement you want to put your money in that is doing the country good, Gawad Kalinga is IT! Your money will not go to charity. It will go to nation building!

Allow me one shameless plug. I still have slots for students who want to take guitar lessons. Write me at jimparedes@gmail.com. I am enjoying this a lot! I’m sure you will too. By the way, contrary to the impression I might have given, I do accept students of ALL ages!

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