Farewell to the Girl with the Smiley Heart

“Hi, my dearest friend. Will undergo my 3rd open heart surgery tomorrow 7 am here, 8 pm there on Tuesday feb 5. Please pray for me, para maka-bakasyon pa ako d’yan at makapag-starbucks tayo.” (Please pray for me, so that I can still go on a vacation there and we can meet up at Starbucks“Love you and miss you my dear!”

My friend Betchico

One of my dearest, best friends, Beth Garachico-Shockey, who lived a colorful, somewhat tumultuous, but fulfilling life. Image Copyright © Jerry Shockey

That was her last message for me. She is coming home for good. But we’ll never meet up at Starbucks and I’ll never have the chance to see her ever again. She with the beauty queen looks and a wonderful smile.

It was a shock the other day to find out that one of my best friends, Beth, has finally left us, never to return. I felt so bad that I never even got to see her last year for the last time when she went home here. Her health did not permit her.

Beth was one of the first people I met at my first job. She was a student then and I was a new graduate applying for a job at her tertiary school. Our first encounter was when I took the psychological test prior to employment. A volunteer student at the Guidance Counseling Office, it was her who handed me the questionnaires and timed my exam. I thought she was very skinny then. I got acquainted with her next at the President’s Office, where I already worked under the Planning Office after some months. That was after she had graduated (turned out she was just one, two years younger, according to her, unless she was pulling my leg for years). Not sure now if she was under the Human Resources Department or there were just some stuff for another department that she had to work on at the office. The last job that I remember her holding at the school was at the Student Affairs Office.

Beth enjoying at the beach

Cool inside and out. Image Copyright © Jerry Shockey

Beth (Betchay to many, Betchico to me) and I became friends. It was when she transferred to our boarding house and became our roommate that we became very close. I came to know why she was skinny and why she had a long scar at the center of her chest. Beth had had a heart ailment since she was a kid that required operation several times already. She always had to watch what she ate ever since she could remember or it could be detrimental to her health.

I came to know about her life more as she was not much of the secretive type. There was a time when I joined a writing-for-film workshop and I asked to be allowed to use her life story. Anonymously, of course. She agreed to an interview. What I found was someone’s real-life story that was full of twists and turns. No one would’ve believed they could have happened to just one person, but they did. So I understood more how such a frail, skinny girl could grow as tough as nails.

Oh, she was tough. Very kind, very nice, very thoughtful, but tough as tough could be when the situation called for it. She would never shout in anger, but she had a way with words that could really hit home. Not that she was mean. But don’t push her to the limit or you’d better be sure you could back up whatever you said with credible arguments. Besides, it could never hit home unless you, yourself, feared it was true in the first place.

I once arrived at the boarding house and she told me of the argument she had at the stairs earlier with our very aggressive, aspiring lawyer-roommate. Lately, this roommate was becoming meaner and meaner, for some reason, to the whole room, especially to Beth. I don’t remember the exact reason for the argument, just that the girl was raising her voice again. Meanwhile, Beth kept calm and smiling. After a while, she laughed mockingly!

She told the other, “Ha, ha. Like you’re going to be a lawyer.”

The girl was taken aback, asking, “What? You don’t think I can be a lawyer?”

“You? NO.”

Bull’s eye! This proved to be a very sore spot for the law student. The girl went up the stairs and into our room looking just about ready to cry. That was Beth’s Psychology background working. She knew how to hit the mark.

After hearing that, I told her, “Wow, you’re scary! If ever you’ll get mad at me, tell me already, okay? So I won’t have to go through that!” Imagine hearing that from someone like me whose temper at the time was much more notorious (then, alright?).

She never did get mad at me and I never tried to test her patience. We would’ve lost our friendship, just like her friendship with someone who shouted at her. He got mad over something so petty and gave her the F-word. That ONE time and she never talked to him ever again, no matter how much he apologized.

Regardless of our opinion on that, that proved one thing: you never walked on Beth and got away from it smiling.

If anything, she could be the most loyal of friends. She became my champion. She told people who assumed I was probably a difficult roommate, “Not true. That’s just because you don’t know the real Gi.” And it’s true, they didn’t. Beth was one of the few who sincerely took the time to get to know me. She was easily my number 1 fan! She loved my stories and believed so much in me and my writing.

In later years, there were wrong decisions made by her. There were times she left without saying goodbye, perhaps to find herself, and I had to tell her when we got together, “Do you know how worried you’ve made me? We didn’t know where you were or how to contact you to, at least, know you’re okay, knowing your heart condition. Don’t do that ever again. You’ll give me a heart attack!” Well, she was human, and she got over everything by sheer courage.

Beth's First Place trophy

Beth bagged First Place in the 2011 International Speech Contest (District 38 Area 4) with her speech about her “smiley” scar and what it meant to her. I wish I could share with you what she wrote, but sigh, I have no copy and have never read it as well…Image Copyright © Jerry Shockey

She could be quite persevering. She never stopped until she finally got her Master’s Degree last year. She went back home for that. I thought she abandoned that dream long ago. If that wasn’t achievement enough, she became a part of the Toastmasters International in the States. Beth won in her speeches especially about the scar that looked like a smiley on her chest. Later on, Beth was hailed President of the Mainland FAA Toastmasters Club.

I truly admired her for being her. So proud to be her friend!

More than a year ago, she told me she wanted to create a foundation for underprivileged kids in the Philippines with the same heart condition as hers. We shared a common dream, somehow, and I had a bit of background, having worked for a child-welfare NGO before. I have yet to find our exchanges that mentioned the name she planned to give it. Naturally, she wanted me to be a part of it. I told her how hard building a foundation was going to be, especially the requirements. She still considered it nonetheless. Unfortunately, it was one achievement she could not have.

She also wanted to write her life story, encouraged by her Toastmasters friends. They suggested for Beth to write a book. “About my life experiences,” she explained, “about how blessed I am that I’m still here.” It was supposed to be in English, though, so who best to ask for help? Me, “Ba-gie” (pronounced buh-ji, one of her then-new terms of endearment for me). I was so looking forward to that.  Sadly, it was simply not meant to be.

Those dreams left undone, I do not believe that Betchico really actually left unfulfilled. She went away happy. In one private message consoling me about my father’s death, she said that she, too, had been already waiting for “that” time to come since she was a kid. It just wasn’t her time yet. I think that we can be consoled by the fact that Beth was ready to meet her Maker.

Let me share one more (partly translated) quote from her:

“Before, I could not appreciate the reason for my going through so many pains and struggles in life…but now, I’m thankful I went through all those things and I am not afraid to go through more…I’ve learned a lot, I’ve met so many people, I’ve met my soulmate, and I’ve met friends like you…”

Beth, I lost another loved one in you, but I know I gained another angel. Thank you so much for your friendship. Rest in peace, Betchico. I will always remember you with fond memories. You’ll continue to be an inspiration to all of us whom you’ve touched with your smiley heart. We’ll see you there 😀

Beth and her achievements

She was featured as one of the Women of Atlantic City in the July/August 2011 edition of the Atlantic County Woman publication. Of course, copyright is theirs

Lovely Beth

Beautiful Beth had one of the loveliest hearts. Image Copyright©Jerry Shockey

List of Cartoons I LIKE(d)?

In my FAQ page, I challenged visitors to go ask me anything that is not-so-frequently asked. My friend Sherwin posted one:

“Can you list all (or at least the ones that you still remember) cartoons/anime you watched when you were a kid? Which of the listed is your most favorite? And why?”

I would have answered right on that page, but my answer proved to be long enough to be a new post. So here I am, and here are my answers below:

Sherwin,you have got to be kidding! I can’t list down all the cartoons I watched aaaaagges ago. But let me jog my memory (meaning do some Googling here and there). Some of them may have really started before my time, but considering how late the international episodes reached us before, I am basing on MY time. I have several favorites (in red asterisks). As for animes, well, if you asked me back then, I would’ve said, “Anime? What’s THAT???

chipndale

Meet the original famous chipmunks, Chip ‘N’ Dale. Chip’s the smarter one, Dale’s the goofier one missing some teeth. Got this image from THIS page

1. I do remember the WALT DISNEY fairie tales and cartoons.* I was no Mickey Mouse fan, though, because the only interesting thing about him were/are his friends and his dog, Pluto, really. The princess-damsels also bored me because I found them so helpless. I loved CHIP ‘N’ DALE instead. They were the original famous chipmunks long before Alvin, Simon and Theodore (and no, we’re not talking about men in skimpy clothes). I found them hilarious, battling it out with the hot-tempered Donald Duck mostly, and whenever they would do their “mirror moves” when one or both unwittingly thought the other was just his mirror image following his every move.

More from Disney:

ADVENTURES OF THE GUMMI BEARS

THE WUZZLES*

2. LOONEY TUNES.* Any kid then should have had parental guidance while watching this. Oh well, what am I saying? Compared to what kids watch and play today, they make Bugs Bunny look like a saint, LOL!!! By the way, if you don’t know it yet by now, NEWSFLASH! Dat li’l itty bitty Tweety Bird who tot it thaw a puddy tat? It is actually a boy canary. *GASP!!!* I just can’t get over it.:@ Oh well, he and Big Bird should get together sometime for some guy-canary bonding.

3. HANNA-BARBERA shows:

(a) THE FLINTSTONES*“Yabba-Dabba-Doooooo!!!!!”
(b) THE YOGI BEAR SHOW though I never did like Yogi. Spinoffs — YOGI’S GANG and YOGI’S SPACE RACE
(c) THE JETSONS, which, out of my loyalty to The Flintstones, I did not really enjoy
(d) SPACE GHOST that I hardly remember, really — I was too young to grasp what the story was about
(e) SHAZZAN — Same as previous entry. I even thought it was “Shazzam!!!”
(f) SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU!* Replays after replays after replays and my sister and I kept watching because we loved mysteries…“Scooby-Doo-Bidoooo!!!” Spinoff: SCOOBY-DOO AND SCRAPPY-DOO
(g) THE SMURFS.* Fave smurf: Papa Smurf. Smurfette was too self-important.
(h) THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW that I don’t exactly remember except I know I watched it as the title is familiar
(i) POPEYE
(j) TOM AND JERRY
(k) CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST, with his friend Hairy Scary 😉
(l) PACMAN. Remember him? My fave character was Baby Pac until the Rip Van Winkle episode revealed he was a boy
(m) THE FONZ AND THE HAPPY DAYS GANG
(n) THE LITTLE RASCALS*…cuties!!!
(o) SUPER FRIENDS.* For some reason, my faves were the Wonder Twins, probably because they were the only young ones there
(p) RICHIE RICH

4. The HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN….TALES*, I think that’s what followed the name. One of my favorites. Not-so-child-friendly if you’re looking for happy, shallow endings to show the kids. It told the stories as they were from the books, that is why I will NEVER get over Disney letting The Little Mermaid live happily ever-after with her Prince Charming AND even bearing a daughter. Like I always say, if they wanted a different ending, they could’ve just created a whole new story altogether with a whole new ending. Same difference.

5. Christian Broadcasting Network’s SUPERBOOK* and its companion series THE FLYING HOUSE* (I really wanted to be Corky, except I didn’t want him to be a boy, either. Ugh)… Both taught me my first religious stories from the Bible. I don’t think I got to watch SUPERBOOK 2.

Christian Superbook and Flying House

My religious story tellers, SUPERBOOK and FLYING HOUSE. Found image HERE

6. JIM HENSON’S MUPPET BABIES.* Fave muppet: Animal — ang kulet!!! 😀 “Me not know, Nanny.” 

7. CARE BEARS In my peer group, I was Love-a-Lot Bear just because. “Care Bears, stare!!!” or something like that…

8. THE COMIC STRIP SERIES, paticularly the STREET FROGS* segment. Watched just for the heck of it.

9. MY LITTLE PONY I can’t remember a single episode mainly because I just watched for watching’s sake

Rainbrow Brite shining

Rainbow Brite was a colorful character, literally. Found image HERE

10. RAINBOW BRITE I still have my little diary with Rainbow Brite on the cover. For some reason, I can’t remember a single episode either…

11. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.* A fave for various reasons.

12. PANDAMONIUM

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Anybody want to share your faves as well? Feel free to leave a comment 🙂

“SMILES, WINKS AND GOOGLY EYES”

love does not discriminate

When it’s there, you’ll just know…

He catches my eye in an instant.

From far across the room, he watches me with a steady gaze, nervous but steady. And I catch my breath. I can feel butterflies doing flip-flops in my stomach. Who would have thought that butterflies could flip-flop?

Still catching my breath as I return his gaze. My, he has come here today looking his best. He has all my attention, that most handsome man in the room. Somehow, I am nervous, but it is a somewhat warm, tingly, funny, nervous sensation running through my every nerve. Weird.

I enter the room ever-so-slowly, my legs trembling like jello with every step.Take it easy,I remind myself, he isn’t going anywhere.He doesn’t seem to at all, not when he smiles at me with that familiar happy and knowing smile.

It is the smile of the friend who has always been there for me through thick and thin, maybe thinner still. Sometimes, he is there to cheer me up when I’m down. Sometimes, he is simply there to help pick up the broken pieces of me. Many times, we fix the pieces together till I’m whole again and almost brand new. Yet other times, he lets me do the cheering, the picking, and the fixing for him.

He is still smiling.

I am reminded of the times he smiles at me when we dance, when he holds me close like I am the only woman in the world for him (never mind that he manages to occasionally step on my feet). Or about those times when he sings sweet songs just for me (never mind that he rather sings off-key and has only perfected the tune to Happy Birthday so far). Or about those many times when he writes me love letters or tries to create poems which I religiously keep in a shoebox together with remnants of other stuff from him (never mind that he does often get carried away and say the corniest things…which I love to read over and over, by the way).

He winks at me and my heart skips a beat.

I love it when he winks at me. It is like sharing a secret that only the two of us know, like a bond, or a pact, or a whatever-you-may-call-it. For me, it is a promise. It is a promise that he will love me and cherish me and shelter me, simply because I am me.

I wink back. Ditto.

He smiles even wider. He got the message. Oh, we could just look at each other and know, just know. I sigh a contented sigh to myself as I reach him and stand before him. This is my perfect lover – Mr. Not-So-Perfect, who fits me quite perfectly.

This is the man I want to wake up to every morning, and sleep together with at night even if he snores. I might snore myself but he will never ever complain. What’s a snore compared to having each other anyway? He appreciates my cooking efforts and loves me all the more for trying, especially not to burn anything. I can talk to him about intellectual stuff like books, poetry, and life, and about trivial things such as the weather and, oh yeah, TV cartoons that we shamelessly watch without worrying too much about age. He does not undermine me by letting me win the games, but does not get mad when I kick his butt in Scrabble and chess. Maybe we don’t agree about everything – he is neither domineering nor a push-over – but this we do know: RESPECT. Our motto.

I sigh again. He is looking at me now with happy, googly eyes.

The man in front of us clears his throat to begin. But before he does, Mr. Right takes my hand, swallows hard, and says the sweetest words next to “I love you” – “I DO.”

I laugh and say, “I KNOW.”

Copyright © June 2002 – 2015 J.Gi Federizo  

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HAPPY HEARTS DAY TO ALL!!!

Love is for everyone. Plenty of it to go around. Let’s be generous 🙂

Baguio Comics Convention!!!

It’s comics convention once again! And now we go to Baguio!!!…Well, not me, really. No time, no moolah, boohoohoo…BUT if you happen to be there (CAP Building), kindly visit my friend, Andoyman Komikero, at table 407. Who is he? This is the guy I interviewed.

Grab a copy as well of his newest venture,  ANG SUMPA. It means something to me, too, as I got to assist and edit for him. It’s this here below:

sumpa new

Make sure to check out the other Pinoy artists’ works as well. You might like some stuff, you never know. Not sure yet if they’re going, but it would be nice if the guys I met before (the guys mentioned HERE) will be there as well ;p

Have FUN, guys!!! 😀