In my yesteryears, I’ve been always quoted by my mentors, friends, classmates and workmates saying that the most important force in my life is God, and the distinct second would be women. God created heaven and earth, but for me the female specie is like a supernova—grand and amazing. Babae, their scent is a trip to paradise; their stare, that look in their eyes is a staircase to the so-called ivory tower; their gentle touch will disarm you and prove that paralysis and adrenaline can happen at the same time; their kiss is so moving that the heartbeat is a Ferrari ride; while the intense feeling is a snapshot of heaven. They complement us like I and Phone, tequila and calamansi, paper and hate, stillness and war. Babae sila. Songs were written about them. The wonder of their beauty is like fireworks at night, it translates poetry in the sky. Babae sila, simbolo ng pag-ibig; mahina at malakas, buhay ay musika at sila ang nota.
Noong makarating ako dito sa France, I felt like everything is foreign. Nakakapanibago. Para bang ‘yung sinasabi nilang “fish out of water”. In that magnitude, parang maikukumpara ako sa isda na sabik na makalangoy sa tubig na kung tawagin ay France. Kita ko na malinis at tahimik ang surface ng tubig, ngunit paglusong ko, parang sumisid ako sa ilalim ng tubig na puno pala ng pressure at stress. Kailangang matuto at magkaroon ng trabaho, pahirapan sa pakikipag-usap dahil French language o Francais ang tinatangkilik na lenggwahe dito. Pressure na makapagpadala ng pera, anxiety at fatigue ay idagdag pa. And as social beings, normal lang na makikisama ka sa mga kapwa mo Pinoy, dun ko nakilala si Shay, a very fine and beautiful lady. Habang nakikilala ko siya, napatunayan ko na hindi lang siya basta-basta isda, siya ay isang lawa o lake, for the mere fact that she’s larger than that. Siya ay kumbinasyon ng napakaraming simbolo. Symbols that enveloped her charming character, veiled by her strong personality, laced by her inner soul that, after all, she is still a woman.
Enter Shay Hipolito, who hails from a remote barrio in Mexico, situated in the province of Pampanga. She is the eldest child of Mang Sael and Aling Glo Hipolito. She is the pride and crown diamond of her family. She finished her college with a degree in Education in Philippine Normal University. She became my confidant, my very close friend, my personal life teacher. We take turns in sharing stories and talk about our personal lives. At her formative years, Shay was helping her mother to sell duhat and kamatis. She took utmost care of her brothers. Yes, everyone struggles through poverty at some point, but picture a little girl who has grown-up with responsibilities at a very young age. Maybe that kind of life experience has an adverse effect to a growing Shay. She became introverted, shy-type, and some bouts of an inferior complex was evident when she was in high school. She then finished her college as a working student. She worked in different fastfood chains. She told me clearly that she stayed longer months in Manila, for the bitter fact that she has no enough money to commute her way back home. Here in France, Shay is proactive as always, but has developed a strong personality contrary to what she was in high school. At her humble beginnings here, she accepted all kinds of jobs. She carried heavy loads of materials virtually thrice her weight and worked as a gardener. Imagine a petite lady carrying heavy loads, mustering her feminine strength and pushing through the work of a man. This is a solid proof of her hard-work and dedication. Oo, nagtinda siya ng kamatis at duhat noong bata pa; naging working student siya; nagbuhat siya ng mga karga na mas mabigat pa sa kanya kahit babae siya. Ngayon siya ay tumatayong nanay at tatay ng pamilya Hipolito; napatapos niya rin ng pag-aaral ang kanyang nakababatang kapatid. Tinitiis niya ang pagod at puyat; sa loob ng kanyang bulsa ay tapang; hikaw niya ay katatagan; make-up niya ay sipag at tiyaga; pabango niya ay pag-asa. At siya ay sumisimbulo sa mga kababaihan dito sa abroad.
Isa ito sa mga simbolo ni Shay. Siguro masyado nang gasgas yung metaphor sa rosas: maganda ngunit may mga tinik. Shay is way more than that. Maihahalintulad ko siya sa idea ng isang music icon na nagsabing “rose that grew from concrete.” Magtanim ka ng halaman, kailangan ng alaga, ilagay sa matabang lupa; dapat laging nasisikatan ng araw, nadidiligan ng husto, bigyan ng pataba para umusbong at tumubo ng maayos. But the case of the matter is otherwise, si Shay ay tumubo pa rin bilang napakagandang rosas kahit inilagay sa semento; paved her way and grew through hardships and struggle, through rocks, dirt, and stones. She was not privileged to have everything, but she found her way to be a beautiful rose.
Yes, the prayer beads. She is very articulate in expressing her feelings. She converses well to her superiors. She speaks what her mind thinks, but at the end of it all, she doesn’t lose touch of her faith. This is her conversation to the Lord, our God. This is when her soul speaks. I’m not saying she’s the religion purist, devout kind of person who wears the halo all the time. None of us are. What I’m saying is that, at the time of crisis, her leap of faith is bouncing higher than ever. Imbes na manghina, ginagawa parin niyang channel o vehicle ang mga worries at problema papunta sa ating Maykapal. Parang rosaryo. I remember her words to me: “’pag may problema ka, makinig ka ng mga songs about God, o magpray ka.”
Some may say any liquor can be intoxicating to our body. It can help some sort of diseases to infiltrate the body. I couldn’t agree more. But that’s not how I like to compare it. Ang konsepto ay parang sa alak, sa saya man o sa lungkot, siya ang gusto mong makasama, dadamayan ka niya. Parang alak, mula sa unang lasap hanggang sa huling patak ng saya ng samahan, hanggang sa malasing sa tuwa at malunod sa galak, hindi ka niya iiwan. Parang usapan na karamay ay alak, masasabi mo sa kanya ang iyong inner thoughts, ang supressed na mga emotion, at kinaumagahan di ka pa rin biglang iiwan, dahil may hang-over ka pa sa kanya.
She may be calm, but her innermost emotion is like that of Hiroshima. She may talk to you non-stop but the real deal is that she’s really bored. On the surface she’s disinterested but underneath she pays attention to little details. She may show anger at you but her intention is for you to learn. She may be stone-cold to you, but she has soft emotions too. She may be smiling, but deep within there are tears. She may pose as she cares little about your accomplishments, but if you magnify her psyche she’s very glad at what you’ve achieved. Ganyan siya, parang abstract painting, hindi mo siya mai-interpret ng basta-basta.
Maraming mga simbolo si Shay, pero ang katotohanan, siya ay simbolo din: simbolo ng mga kababaihan na nananatiling matatag dito sa abroad. There is a Shay in every woman overseas. She is the representation of toughness, the symbol of the ladies who cemented success through pain and adversity; gentle and strong; weak in stature but mentally tough; simbolo siya.
Bawat pawis at pagluha ay diamante sa mga naiwang pamilya, hindi na matutumbasan pa ang kanilang mga sakripisyo. Sila ay babae, hawak ay rosaryo at hindi magigiba ng anumang unos. Sa kanang kamay nila ay may rosas, ang halimuyak at tinik ay nakaukit sa balat; sa kaliwang kamay ay alak, nilulunod ang mga paghihirap, inaagos sa limot ang mga nangyaring pang-aalipusta at pagde-degrade sa kanilang pagkatao at muling haharap sa agos ng buhay; at, sa konkretong paraiso ay may nakasabit na abstract painting, sumasalamin sa kababaihan na napag-iiwanan ng mga parangal dahil sa iba sila ay mahina at hindi competent: isang malaking kasinungalingan. Sa mga dakilang kababaihan, saludo kami sa inyo. Kudos! ●
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