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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thank You PEBA!

“The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better" - Barbara Pletcher

My 77-year old mother riddled me with incessant queries over the phone; forget that my yelling reached  a cracking decibels yet unaudible to her as much. My younger brother had bombarded me with questions too. Why am I sending my two sisters to Manila for what? Turns out a rather difficult task to explain to them what I am up to apart from being the most responsible breadwinner on the planet. My woes just started. I vowed not to make promises again - even for a birthday's worth. Earlier, I was not too ecstatic about PEBA night knowing my odds of winning tipped the other side. I knew I had a strong entry, written from the heart and experience. But there were other criteria that my blog fell off from. Silently though I had promised a birthday present for myself if things get my way.

Two weeks preceding PEBA night, I had somewhat a realization that I'm not gonna make it as one of the awardees. Looking at the trend: Alexa ranking - I'm almost dead last - on online voting a perennial bottom dweller - oh yes I have one of the most boring blogs too. Even myself hated my own style of writing - impulsive, preachy, daring - Nebz would call it vitriolic sometimes. To unwittingly lunge it into a lighter sphere suits not my persona, observes a fellow blogger. And so I stopped begging for votes. I'd been mum on Facebook about this obnoxious vote-for-me boo-boos. "I had other things to get obsessed about", my mind consoles my psyche. But my mind has it. If I ever get to the top ten, I will send one of my siblings from Negros to represent me to the awards night.

Exactly a week before PEBA night, I received an email from Yanah Bautista informing me that I have been chosen to receive an award. I had hoped I was in the top ten. As to the kind of award, you certainly won't know until the awards night itself. Hmmm...I remember PEBA site announces 40 plus trophies are to be given out. So I was not sure whether my blog landed on the top ten, or perhaps a special citation for the most melodramatic entry. As I recall, other entries were more of a tearjerkers too so I am not alone contending for that plum. Plus the fact that I was told to make a video of myself or acceptance speech for the awards night. "Oh this is cruel", I resented. I will not in a million years do that - humiliating myself in front of hundreds of people? No way! The message certainly won't get through but my thick Ilonggo accent. Let me just make an essay about world peace or Gloria's mole in fifteen minutes but not this thing called public speaking, albeit a recorded one.

Whether I was in the top ten or not reigns incredulously in my mind. Shall I send my sister to Manila or not, plays tug-of-war in my mind. Over lunch that day, my mind vacillates between the pros and cons of my decision. If I throw a fortune for a two-way ticket plus accommodation, I will have nothing left to help my family tide over this Christmas. Okay, comes the impulse. I had to summon my strongest will. I texted my sister in a spur-of-the-moment. She replied like "are you serious?" kind of thing. Honestly, they have no idea what is this thing called blog. They have the slightest idea what I am up to apart from religiously sending my monthly remittances to them. After much deliberation, one will not go unaccompanied so I had two of them baptized in their first ever taste of air travel. And so, the bleeding of my pocket gushed like no other. What else?

Accommodation though was not sort of a problem because we have  friends in Bicutan who are more than wiling to offer them  a couple of night's sleepover. But as so often happens to those innocent enough to venture  the concrete jungle webbed with superhighways and skyways, heading to the event venue certainly guarantees another headache. And so I had to beg the organizers a couple of seats more to accommodate certified city slickers to chaperone them. Grateful to have found willing volunteers, I instructed them not to come late so as not to avail of SRO. True enough, they arrived at the venue an hour earlier and were duly ushered to the front row. An hour and half past six, the program has not commenced yet as the venue is slowly filled with guests who either got stuck in hellish traffic or got dazed with a finding nemo predicament.

Before the live streaming got to air, my cellular phone was already mired in traffic - this time complaints that the program will not start  a little too soon and some midsection already started to grumble as well. I thought I missed out on the awarding of photo entries as should have preceded the blog entries. Due to time constraint or some  lapses perhaps, the photo awards were not given out that instantly became an issue of seismic proportions. Special blog awards were given out first for different categories. Some blogs even scooped up multiple awards like Friendster, Facebook and Nokia awards. This is what you call misery loves company. "If I ended up zero that night, I think there will still be more losers than winners", I conceded. "So I am in the majority's side", me consoling myself. :-) But wait, I was told I'd be getting one. Until the best blog award for Mideast and Africa was announced. So the rest will have to contend for 2nd to 10th place knowing fully well that most of the strongest entries come from this region.

When my blog was announced, my sister glided the stage elegantly and held up my trophy as though she too won an Oscar. And yes, she was very proud of his small brother - a college dropout who has become his family's breadwinner since eighteen. This blogger had been through so many tough times in life - of being a sidewalk vendor often harassed by police, of getting duped by employment agencies, of becoming homeless in Abu Dhabi, and jobless in Jeddah, what else he has not gone through? There were times I cried reading my own posts about me, my struggles and my regrets. Though my mother does not understand about this blogging award, I'm sure she is proud of me too, for what I have done for our family.

On arriving home in Silay City, my two sisters have not run out of stories to tell. Maybe not so much about the glitz and glamor at the venue or the freebies that they took home with them. Not even the dizzying skyways and colossal traffic that confronted them, but on feeling proud of the recognition that I got. One of them asked me why I had to choose my nickname to be written on the trophy instead of my real name. By the way, in Negros I am Isoy or Isiock to most of them. Rarely do they call me Nelson. Since the title of my blog is !Soy Negrense! they read it as Isoy. Believe me I could not stop laughing at the blooper. So I had to explain to them that it is Spanish which means I am a Negrense. And my mother had her moment too. She said is this all my 'pasalubong' for her? A Plate? She would further argue that we had a lot of plates already and that she doesn't prefer glass because it breaks easily. :-)

Whether my blog deserves to be in the top ten or not is for anyone's opinion. I too have my own set of favorites and seven of them got to the top ten. And I am very happy that my predictions held true. So more or less the judges got it right. Winning fifth place is not bad on a first try. To me, there are greater reasons why sometimes we are compelled to write our own stories and share our lives to others. With PEBA's advocacy on strengthening OFW families in light of rising incidence of failed marriages and broken families, I could not find a bettter and more visible platform than this to be able to tell the world of what is actually happening behind the sacrifices of an OFW family brought about by diasporic migration in pursuit of a better life. There are still countless other stories that waited to be heard - of love, sacrifices, dreams and sometimes failures that become fixtures in a life of an OFW.

My deepest gratitude to the PEBA founder Mr. Jebee Kenji Solis and PEBA president Mr. Nereus Jethro Abad,  for their enormous efforts and sacrifices to make the PEBA event a resounding success - and of course to all the PEBA people around the world - and in the Philippines for their extraordinary passion and dedication to make PEBA a real platform for OFW excellence, whereby blogs are a powerful tool to get OFW sentiments heard across the world - sending out inspiration and strong statement that we are not just another group or sector but an organization, a genuine one, founded with a genuine vision and mission - to carry the torch of  OFW causes - and be a catalyst for change one way or another. I salute you guys! Thank you for making my birthday a truly memorable one! Merry Christmas to all!


Carnation said...


Noel said...

Yet, another inspiration to all. Congratulations.

NFB said...

@ Carnation, thank you and congratulations too. Merry Christmas!

@ Noel, many Congratulations to you for making it to the top4! You really deserved it! Merry Christmas!

The Pope said...

Congratulations and belated Happy Birthday. You really deserve this award.

Life is Beautiful, Keep on blogging, keep on inspiring.

NFB said...

Thank you Pope! You were one of those few people who inspired me to continue bloggging even when I didnt feel pleasure in writing anymore. Thank you and I also dedicate this award to you. Merry christmas!

Pinaywriter said...

Hurray! Sayang gusto ko rin sana 5th place since fave number ko un. Kala ko after the 10th place was announced wala na akong pag-asa! Pero meron pa rin pala. I was like super waiting for your blog to win. Sayang wala tayong paper bag.

Francesca said...

I voted for your blog to be number one, as I was to be the judge.
(Some judges, confided me they too, would like you to win.)

Then Ms Yanah took over me the duties, because I was in Thailand, cant concentrate if on holiday, playing with the tigers, lol.But I mentioned it to her, I like your entry.

Nakakatuwa ang nanay mo, she did not need more plates, haha.
And experience ng mga sisters mo to take the plane!!!!
Taga bacolod bala ako, kaya I know the feeling...

For me, its not the glory that counts in winning an award, it adds , but the glory is not that important for me,

what counts is, your way of writing and inspiring people to do blogs also, because you wrote topics from the heart.

Hope next year, you still blog, kasi yung iba, nawawala na sa circulation...
and ikaw naman ang mag judge ng entries next year...

NFB said...

Wow Ms Francesca, i never knew all along taga bacolod ka man gali yehey!

Ansaya ng experience ng mga sisters ko, so that was worth it.
Thank you for believing that my blog entry deserved to win, although i might have lost out in other criteria. Im still happy, thank u very much. It's an encouragement knowing that there are fine bloggers like you who took notice of my sentiments manifested in my blog. Thank you and God bless.

braggito said...


'To Congratulations. Sorry late akon greetings sa imo.

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Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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