endless gratitudes

Gratitude goes a long way. When Mary Jane Veloso’s mother ranted about her daughter’s case and blamed the government for all their woes, this despite the government’s help in postponing her daughter’s execution, the public outcry was: what an ingrate. The thanklessness appalled us and struck something very personal in each one. Why not just be grateful for all the help? For the extension of life? For the rescue? Why couldn’t people just be thankful? Politics got in the way, they say. It’s sad that even gratitude is used for politcal agendas.

I spent the last hour or so thanking everyone personally for the birthday greetings they posted on my wall last July 7. As you would already know, I traveled again on my birthday for 10 days, just as I did last year. I wanted to personally thank everyone who took time to greet me or remember my birthday, even if it was due to Facebook’s reminder. Before I left, I also wrote personal letters to friends here in Palawan and thanked them for their friendship. I am 30 years old now and I am grateful for the friendships that I have.

Yesterday, an incident happened at work. One of the bridges in Roxas city, a town that is in between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, collapsed, stranding vehicles and making it impossible to cross to either side. As such, our trips are either disrupted or canceled because none of the vehicles can travel to their end destinations. We made the decision to cancel the trip in the morning and informed all affected guests, but we could not get through two passengers who were still doing tours. After leaving text messages and emails letting them know of the situation, we finally got in touch with them in the afternoon. The customer was irate and was upset that we were canceling. They still wanted to travel come what may, because according to them, they were catching a tour in Puerto Princesa the next day. Apart from that, she reasoned out that it shouldn’t be their problem that the bridge collapsed so they should still be able to come home. I told her, neither was it our fault that this bridge collapsed. Despite all my careful explanations, she demanded that we transport her, assist her once we get to the bridge, arrange for another van to pick them up from the other side, and pay for that at the same time.

I know. People can really be very illogical and ridiculous sometimes. Long story short, I arranged for her transfer despite the night travel posing risks, and even arranged for another vehicle to pick them up from Roxas, which all came down at the last minute.

This morning, I received an email from her that had the same irate tone when I spoke to her on the phone. In her email, she went on and on about how we were supposed to have done a better job at assisting them, and how she was offended that I even raised my voice at her, something that I did because she was screaming on the phone. I simply said, “Excuse me ma’am, you do not have to scream at me. I can hear you very well and I am trying to explain this as carefully as I can.”

Thankless, right? What ingratitude. It just annoys you because despite all the efforts you gave, even going out of your way, they still believed they were right and you were wrong. And they put the blame on you. I didn’t respond anymore and decided to let it go because you simply cannot reason with close-minded people. You also cannot reason out with people who simply lack the ability to recognize their faults. To them, they will always be right.

Ingratitude is one of those things that I do not want to carry with me through life, especially now that I’m 30. Yes, 30 is still young, but that is also a matter of perspective. To me, I am only 30 once. 30 could also be last, you really just never know. There are endless things to be grateful for. The mere fact that I am breathing, alive, with friends and family, with a thriving business, with a good church –I am eternally grateful to God. Life isn’t perfect and there are endless bumps along the road. But God’s grace always accompanies us. I was thinking about this when I traveled to Bagan and I was atop one of the pagodas. Before my eyes I could see one stunning pagoda after another, in different shape, color, and size, and they went on for miles and miles. The monuments seem to overwhelm the landscape. These pagodas seemed endless from where I stood and I wondered why so many were built. Why couldn’t they just be content with one or a few? It was because they had endless reasons for them. They say there are at least 10,000 temples, pagodas, stupas and monasteries in Myanmar, and over 4,000 in Bagan, commissioned as religious structures for worship, as welcome and parting gifts, as houses for their deities, as commemoration for the installment of new royals, as trophies of victory and on and on. As endless as their existence are, I also wanted to be endlessly thankful for my own life. At that moment, I was really appreciative of everything that I have experienced, encountered, and endured these 30 years. Fact is, life wasn’t always a walk in the park. Divorce in the family. Separation. Financial struggles. Heartbreak. Medical concerns. Character flaws. And yet despite all that has happened in my life, I know I am in a good place. No, I am in the best place, because of God. Truly, His presence in my life makes all the difference. The truth is, we were never promised perfect, happy lives all the time. Instead, while we are yet in this world, we are promised His abiding, powerful presence.

Thank you, Father. You are real. You are personal. You are Love. You are truth. You are Sovereign. And you hold our lives in the palm of your safe hands. Thank you for enabling me to know you, the little that I do. Thank you for not giving up on me when many times I have given up on myself.

So today, consciously be grateful. Thank the Lord. Thank somebody. A friend. A parent. A loved one. Be thankful for something. For meal on your table. For an umbrella in the rain. For forgiveness and second chances. For rainbows and sunshines. Appreciate. Do not take anything for granted. The list is endless.

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalms 118:24

Atop Shwesandaw Paya
Atop Shwesandaw Paya

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