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I AM LUCKY MANZANO

I am Lucky Manzano. I love my mother. I love my wife. I love my friends. 

I am an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker). I currently work in a small country in the Middle East, Kuwait. I proudly come from a big province in the Philippines, in Cavite. I have been toiling in foreign soils since before the pandemic because life at home is hard. 

There was a time when my mother, a single parent, would cry herself to sleep each night because we had no food, and she had no idea where to get any. 

There was a time when we would do odd jobs, however odd, to earn a little something for food and food only. There was nothing else we could buy with the little that we earned.

There was a time when I had to walk kilometers to be with friends, not really to hang out and have fun, but to be able to eat a little, and, sometimes, bring home a little too, for my mother. Most of the time, there was food in my friend’s house where the barkada gathers all the time.

“Those were days and nights and weeks and months that I no longer want to remember, but I will never forget.”

Those were days and nights and weeks and months that I no longer want to remember, but I will never forget. They were not merely difficult; they were challenging. On more than one occasion, I thought they were already impossible, and I almost gave up, if not for the chance to work abroad that suddenly landed on my lap when a distant cousin met an accident, was injured, and needed to be replaced by somebody the foreign employer could trust. That. Changed. My. World.

Fast forward to today. My mother already lives somewhat comfortably. We are definitely not rich; we just have enough. At least in her old age, my mother does not have to sleep hungry and dream about food she could not buy. She can now eat three meals a day. I already have a wife who works at home doing online buy and sell of this and that, adding a little income for household expenses, and sometimes even for savings. At least she and my mother live together while I am far away. My old friends are still my friends, although of course, it has been ages since we last saw each other. This pandemic is not helping in any way, too, in making that well-deserved and long-waiting reunion happen. Our plans remain as plans and may remain so for a long time. And I, I am alone, in this foreign land.

“And I, I am alone, in this foreign land.”

Each time I close my eyes, I think of home. And when I open them, I see something I cannot describe but can feel. It is a kind of longing but more profound, more intense, and often overwhelming. I need to hold a hand, but there is no hand, only the wind. I need to go out in the field and scream at the top of my voice, but there is only this big house inside a large gated compound, and I can only speak in whispers. I need to let my heart run its races and probably win some, but there is only this tiny room when the long day ends before another early morning starts in the next. Sigh.

Two or three months ago, however, I stumbled upon a vlog on YouTube. I did not really look for it. I did not even know there was something like it. I was just browsing aimlessly, half-asleep even, and then got glued. 

The vlog was not about those luxurious tourist destinations I would never be able to experience in my lifetime anyway. It was also not about those extravagant apparel that cost more than my monthly salary. It was likewise not about those lavish food that cannot even fill up my stomach.

“The vlog is actually funny, but it makes me cry a good one.”

The vlog is actually funny, but it makes me cry a good one. It brings back so many memories, really happy memories, and brings in so many thoughts that are more like wishes or dreams that can come true. It makes me think, imagine, even fantasize. It. Makes. Me. Happy.

To avoid spoiling your very own personal experience with the vlog, just watch them yourself and tell me I am crazy.

My best friend is not anywhere near Alex Gonzaga, but this video reminds me of her, and how she and I are with my wife, and all those good times we all had, even when we were really poor. We were really, very good friends since way back. Watch!

My wife is not anywhere near Jessy Mendiola, and my wife and I have no wedding memes; in fact, we didn’t even have a wedding “wedding.” It was a just mass wedding (kasalang bayan) sponsored by some politician. But, still, it was a memorable wedding, and we enjoyed the small reception at home (sponsored by another politician). Watch!

My mother is not anywhere near Vilma Santos. Well, nobody is anywhere near Vilma Santos, period. My mother is also not a talker; she barely talks. My mother is likewise not funny nor fun-loving; she looks like she has only known pain all her life, except perhaps these last several years, although she still does not crack jokes, tell stories, or do small talk. She just smiles, without teeth, and laughs, but with her head constantly nodding slowly, gently, and repeatedly. Once in a while, however, she gives me advice in one-sentence installments. These few and rare words of wisdom I keep in my heart. Watch!

Have you watched them all? Nothing fancy. No fireworks. No high-tech graphics and sci-fi effects. Just pure and unadulterated life as they (these artistas) know it. Sincere. Unscripted. Natural. Free-flowing. And, yes, funny. Did I already say heartfelt? 

My only problem is that I do not know the schedule of the releases of new episodes. I just keep on checking if a new one has already been uploaded. I guess that adds to the excitement, having something to look forward to, patiently waiting for the next one to come. Oh well.

You see, we all have hardships to endure, triumphs to chase, and everything in between. When life seems complicated, we have to find a way to go over the hump and continue the journey, wherever it may lead us. Others go shopping or do gambling, which I do not have the money for. Others play online games or do movie marathons, which I do not have the time for. Others sleep and sleep, which I do, too, but not before checking out Lucky TV.

Even with only a few vlogs that I watched, some of which I watched three times or more already, I can say that there is a Lucky Manzano in each one of us. Like him, we love our mothers. Like him, we love our wives. Like him, we love our friends. Like him, we all try to find joy, wherever it may be, and create happiness, however we can.

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