Monday, April 24, 2006



I call her the oldie with a thousand details. well ok, I really didn’t see a thousand details but I’m dead sure that she bears in her daily life a thousand details. all I need to do to confirm this is to be with her for a week or so.

the bus was unusually cold that day when we sat side by side. I began taking a mental note of the many things she fussed about the moment I realized her busy hands.

make up – yep. even little old ladies have glam foxes in them. she applied, re applied, looked in her little mirror and re applied again. I didn’t see her use lipstick but then she already had some on. Admit it or not, everyone loves a grandma who still strives to look good.

rollers – “she got rollers on her hair” – Rizal Underground. I know a few sure things about Filipino attitude, and this is one of them: the older you get the more social freedom you acquire. The old lady had rollers on her hair that screams I’m-a-steady-lola-so-damn-you-all! It’s just funny how she fixes them from time to time, her rollers seemed a bit… loose; they probably retired a long time ago but then some of our belongings will only retire when we retire. Look at your grandparents and their things and you’ll understand how and why.

the plastic bag with the infinite bottom - I counted three. she had a fairly big black lady’s bag, a medium sized pouch of the same color and a yellow plastic bag that had an assortment of everything: half consumed chips, school supplies, a fan and oddly enough, a pair of old tennis shoes. I realize the intricacy of the arrangement when, it was time to pay, she got her money after checking two of her bags; bills from one, coins from another. I got a bit scared when she curtly said to the Kunduktor: Senior! The poor dude wouldn’t dare ask for an ID to confirm this. I’m glad he didn’t.

umbrella – it’s a local universal thing. every old lady you meet has one which I can attribute to a heightened sensitivity to the sun and rain. The old lady by my side hooked her umbrella on the seat in front of us. But then I guess it’s really a Filipino thing. I’m told that if you go to New York in summer, you’ll know who the Pinoy’s are by looking for those who walk with an umbrella under the sun.

mobile phone – the oldie, I don’t know what power she has, but she sends out an SMS, and then she gets a call. She did this two times without fail, and all her conversations dealt with a couple of ‘bilins’/reminders, or rather, they sounded to me like precision marching orders.

checklist – I didn’t really know what went into her small notebook, I saw small checks alongside a couple of items on its pages. The lady checked and added as the bus rolled along. I could only imagine how the hubby survived such an organized person.

Throughout the trip, the oldie alternately fiddled with her stuff, looked out the window at all the regular roadside things we see everyday and at times, she would casually look at her small black watch. She was 70 by my guess, and she still grabs life by the horns. still rushing into things with an active soul, still minding the time with the knowledge of how easily it can be lost, still striving to be a part of the lives of the people she loves. before I go down, she takes out a small children’s book with a unicorn on the cover. Somewhere out there is a kid waiting for a bus riding lola.

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