This article from Michael O’Riordan’s column Outside Looking In was first
published in the Dumaguete Metropost on the 10th of June
Based on even a casual interpretation of logic, I should now be dead or at
best, severely mangled while lying in a hospital bed, wired up to a
ventilator, and with tubes stuck up my nostrils.
The accident happened two weeks ago when I was driving my motorbike on the
unfinished “new road” from Valencia proper to Sibulan. Suddenly, I was
lying on my side on the road with my motorbike pinning me down as I sped
along sideways at 65 km per hour.
Being the macho idiot that I am, and harboring the illusion I’m a mature
Peter Fonda in the film *Easy Rider*, I was, of course, wearing no helmet.
My clothes were a light T-shirt and shorts.
That stupidity was quickly made clear as the uneven surface covered with
jagged stones and chips tore away at my left-hand side. Approximately 300
yards later, I saw large rocks quickly rushing towards my unprotected body.
Strangely, just before impact, and my head getting smashed to pieces, my
motorbike spun around, then skidded across the road far away from the
jagged boulders before coming to a halt.
What happened next was typical of the goodness that lives in the Pinoy
heart. A young couple who had been ahead of me stopped, and turned back to
come to my assistance. A man from the house opposite where the accident
happened also came to check on me.
Contrast that with the last time I was injured. It happened near my home in
California. An Irish expression says *No good deed will go unpunished*, and
this was yet again about to be proved correct. I’d been fostering sick dogs
for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The large dog I
was walking jumped suddenly when seeing a large, unsupervised German
Shepheard across the road. I got thrown high into the air and came down
hard on my right knee which was smashed into pieces on impact with the
concrete path. It resulted in me having to lay in bed for three months. The
owner of that dog ignored my pain as I tried to get up. He even had the
audacity to complain about the dog I was walking! A couple, neighbors I
used to wave at during our respective walks, had been out with their dog
and saw the incident, but not wanting to get involved, they quickly picked
up their dog, and waddled away.
That would never happen in Negros Oriental.
But I digress. I somehow made it back over to Valencia Proper and had my
wounds cleaned at the medical center there. Then they brought me by
ambulance, at no personal cost, to the Silliman University Medical Hospital
where I received excellent and compassionate service. X-rays showed severe
tissue damage and many nasty cuts along the left side of my body, but
amazingly, no head trauma, no broken or fractured bones.
All my life, I’ve experienced luck that defies explanation. It’s not
appropriate here to go into detailed examples, just trust me that it’s
true. This latest escape is yet another in a life-long list. I’ve no reason
to believe my outrageous good luck will not continue for what’s left of my
brief dance through time.
I went to Balamban in Cebu island last weekend to see Vhie’s daughter
Jermaigne perform on stage. It was her first time. Jermaigne is a
delightful combination of wild Pinoy child, mixed with a degree of modest
reserve, strictly instilled by her ambiguously-conservative mother Vhie.
Jermaigne was part of a summer arts program for beginning musicians aged
from three to 16. She decided to learn how to play the piano. Her piece was
*Still* which apparently is a well-known recording by a pop group called
Vhie was nervous, but I had no concerns. All Jermaigne had to do was smile,
and the audience would be captivated. Sure enough, she strode confidently
onto the stage, displayed her glorious smile, and said in her little girl
voice, “Hello I’m Jermaigne Leonise Biano. I’m six years old. I’ll now
perform* Still* for you.’’ Then she calmly sat down, and faultlessly played
the piano while quietly singing the tune to herself, as her little legs
swung to and fro far above the stool she sat on.
I was momentarily drawn back to my own childhood and remembered the first
time I spoke in public. I was nine. It was at our Jesuit school in Ireland.
Four of us spoke about different aspects of the famous Siege of Limerick.
Although initially nervous, I did a solid job, and have always subsequently
loved public speaking.
Now, there I was, thousands of miles and a lifetime removed from Ireland.
It was my turn to observe this beautiful spirit beginning to fulfill
herself as she embarks on her life journey.
I felt, rather than observed, Vhie standing beside me, with her phone
inevitably recording the event. The palpable joy emanating from her was
what makes life worth living. And that unique bond of Pinoy mother and
child was exhilarating to observe. Vhie looked over briefly to me beaming
and nodded her head. No words were necessary.
Then Jermaigne finished, and we howled with laughter when she abruptly
turned her back on the audience and walked offstage forgetting to bow to
Jermaigne now calls me Daddy. This both thrills and terrifies me. This
relationship with her is my last shot at being a good father. Although now
very close to my three adult children, I’ve always been a failure as a
father. Now this beautiful child looks up at me with trust and a loving
heart that can only come from the innocent.
My primary goal in life now is to do all I can to guide Jermaigne to the
best of my limited ability, and hopefully to be a good influence on her
while I still can.
It’s a bitter-sweet reality but if I’m allowed even ten more years, it
should be sufficient time to give her the tools necessary to successfully
navigate this an often-confusing life journey.