Extension of Contract

I waited the other day. I waited for that one call that never came. Of course, it will not come. My father is dead so it’s only rational to not expect but I waited anyway. Like how one waits for unrequited love. You know it’s not coming but the hope is there anyway. Crazy.

There was no birthday eve calls, nor birthday texts that wished me God’s blessings and constant protection from that one man I want to receive it from. The tradition is as dead as his body in that cemetery plot near the chapel. I was sad. I sung myself a happy birthday song just to lift my spirit up (because it always did in the past 33 years) but it went down the drain, to the sewers were all the other garbage emotions have gone.

I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to read a new text message from him, even the short ‘ok, copy’ quips that my brother, sister, and I were so accustomed to. There was no way God was making that happen, regardless of my birthday privileges. God is probably thinking that I have gone cuckoo and God, being All Knowing, is certain that if He granted my request (after all my absurd drama), it will probably lead to (me) shitting in my knickers or worst, giving myself a heart attack. I guess He knows that roaming spirits, even those of my loved ones, will scare the living daylights out of me, so I should really just shut up about it.

So this is 34.

34 is facilitating an ad-hoc session in a Mindanao-wide conference and extracting what is needed.


34 is receiving unexpected gifts from friends and feeling sparks of gratitude every now and then for such surprises.

34 is bombarded with happy notes from friends and family who remembered your special day (especially when you need to be reminded because life is not just about work no matter how much you love it) and to never forget that there might be people who hate you, but there are also people who love you just as much or even more.

34 is drinking with colleagues and talking about the massacres happening around the world, about conflicts and lumad killings, about structure failures and recommendations for fixing them, about Christmas parties, about mythical creatures, marriages and prenuptial agreements, about visa issues and event challenges, and everything else that our alcohol-induced brains could muster.


34 is hearing a Christian, Muslim, and Indigenous Person’s prayer uttered in one place to remind you that we can all worship God in our own unique ways and that judgment will not be passed around like a guilt bucket. To smile and say that I am a Christian and there is nothing wrong with that; that you are a Muslim and there is nothing wrong with that; that you are a Lumad and there is nothing wrong with that.

34 is choosing your battles and fighting for that elusive peace to permanently reside in your heart, because you deserve every ounce of it.

34 is watching Lumads sing and celebrate instead of paying for over-the-top concerts.


34 is overcoming fears and being braver than before because the world is crazier, nastier, and more ridiculous than it was when you were 33.

34 is cutting your long wild curls for a more mature look.

34 is witnessing old traditions come alive and receiving that blessing from a tribal baylan.


34 is forgiving some, forgetting some, and not listening to some who inject nothing but negativity in your life just so you will be as miserable as they are.

34 is learning to deal with your grief the right way and not the roundabout way.

34 is knowing your worth and wanting only what you deserve, nothing less and nothing of similar façade.

34 is being certain of what makes you happy – to just laugh and goof around like no one’s watching.

lol34 is thanking God for extending the contract.

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