Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Good Riddance Day -- or so they thought

I knew it is traditional to say goodbye formally and I had long ago accepted I had to go through the ritual -- and in style!

But I had a couple of stories to go before I finish the UP Centennial book project my director touted as my "last hurrah." Plus he sounded me off on a part-time retainer engagement to go on handling publications and publicity.

So I told HRD it was premature to hold a good riddance party, as I will still be around for some time. I made AO Din promise to hold his horses and spring no surprises.

Thus have I lately fallen into an unharried, unhurried, "ah, this is the life" rhythm of going to work twice or thrice a week, after lunch.

Last Friday afternoon, I was enjoying a leisurely glass of iced tea in our office kitchenette when JP, president of our foundation, came in. He had a meeting downstairs, he said, and had time to kill, which he seemed to want to kill by discussing his arthritis. As I gamely listened, the secretary appeared by the door to tell JP his meeting was about to begin. I stood up to go back to work but JP gripped my arm. "You have to accompany me to the meeting," he said. "I can barely walk."

Strange, I thought, as he had walked in without help. Is JP making lambing? When he tightened his grip and led me through the door, a bulb finally flashed and I began to say: "Oh, no, no, no, oh no!!! Don't do this to me. I said no surprises."

When we reached the darkened Red Room, lighted only by a projector screen with my picture on it, shadowy figures began to sing. When the lights came on, the shadows transformed into smiling co-workers, former colleagues, and members of my family.

Aloud I kept yelling: "Ang sama nyo! Hindi nyo man lang ako pinag-lipstick."

Inwardly I kept groaning: "I should have prepared a speech. Omg, how come they didn't let me prepare a speech?!"

They said a lot of good things about me that day, but how come nobody said I was beautiful and sexy?

There was a "deal-or-no-deal" quiz between kapuso (my office mates) and kapamilya (members of my family) which focused on my late-rising, late-coming-to-work, nagging-pressuring ways, and other foul deeds.

The office counterpart of Michael Buble serenaded me, but why oh why did he sing "Only You" by the Platters?

I moved my chair nearer the projector when they showed a power point presentation. Even without my glasses on, I knew those were pictures of me evolving -- from very young, to not quite young, to getting old, to absolutely old. Which reminds me I still have to find out how they got my grade-school photos. And those of Apo Andeng. They even showed pictures I didn't know existed.

They made me cut a huge cake, significantly 40 x 40 inches big, thankfully without candles.

When I stood to respond, I hemmed and hawed as is my wont, when caught flatfooted.

But I managed to say the office has been good to me. That it was not just another workplace, but the source of professional, psychological, economic, and social fulfillment. That because it trusted my meager skills, I was encouraged to develop them. That because it believed in me, I had compelled myself to lecture and speak even in international conferences -- incredible for someone who has never gotten over a chronic stage fright and public speaking jitters.

I said that in the years I'd been with the office, I had coordinated and presided over countless goodbye parties, tributes and roasts and toasts. And that now that I was for the first time at the receiving end of one, it felt fabulous. But masama pa din ang loob ko, I insisted. "Kasi hindi nyo ako pinag-lipstick and hindi nyo ako pinag-prepare ng speech."

I served notice I'd still be around for some time to come and that if they expected good riddance they were in for a disappointment. For it would take a dozen hunks and a straitjacket to yank me out from my room. I ended with my favorite cliche: "And that's a promise as well as a threat."

I didn't say publicly I had fancied myself attending my goodbye party in style.

That I fancied entering the room dramatically, in gala gown, swept-up do, and vivid make-up, having finally gotten the day before the professional facial I have never treated myself to.

That, most of all, I fancied myself standing by the podium, ready -- with a torrent of choice and unforgettable words -- to shake and rattle the tiny universe that was my office for 40 years.

I didn't get to stage the goodbye I fancied. But why was I feeling so moved and thrilled and happy?


Gina said...

What a wonderful surprise for you MC...Talagang clueless ka ha? =))

myepinoy said...

Mabilis talaga ang panahon. At tulad kay Mang Romy, ito ang isang tula na isinulat mo na isa sa mga favorites ko.

Para na rin ito sa yo.

Mang Romy, aalis ka na pala?
Hindi pa tayo nagkwewentuhan. Di ba
Halos gabi gabi, tuwing alas siete.
"Anna. Uuna na ako. Ikaw na bahala dine?"
"Hwag muna, Mang Romy, hintayin mo na ako."
Ngiti. Talikod. "Goodnight, Mang Romy."

Nguni't Mang Romy ...

Paano ka aalis nang di ko pa arok
Kung ano ang nakakasaya sa 'yo? Ang nakakakirot?
Paano ka magtampo? Mainis? Malungkot?
At aling pangarap pa ang di mo pa abot?
Mang Romy, aalis ka nga ba?
Marahil sa yong paglisan makikilala na kita.

Sabi ni Bob Dylan: "You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

All the best my friend.

Rudy said...

Aren't you a bit too young to be retiring? I'm sure there's still a lot of mileage left inside that slim physique of yours (naks!). Besides, the best is yet to come pa, di ba?

julie said...

I wish you well, MRC.

I do hope you will get to do the things you want to do now that you have more free time. You should lest you get bored so much.

More time with Andeng. More time to blog. More time to stop and smell the roses. After all the de-cluttering has been done, of courser :)

bernz said...

Well, I think you deserve a surprise party, 42 years of service is really a surprise you know! besides, you will have more time to Andeng and more time to focus on blogging.

Hello Pension! ^_^

chateau a.k.a. imom said...

Come let's get that facial then! :)

And, yes, you are beautiful and sexy.

See you soon I hope. Had a great time last week. It was late but bitin pa rin, no?

noemi said...

Oh that must have been a surprise! a pleasant surprise. I wish I saw the powerpoint presentation. You think you can show it to me?

raqgold said...

i love suprises and yours is a wonderful one. and yes, i echo noemi's request for the powerpoint presentation, too. share pls!

soloops said...

I tagged you, Ms. Anna!

How is semi-retirement?

Anna said...

what, no lipstick at your party? but then, spontaneous is always better than staged, di ba?

Sexy Mo said...

finally, it will be will have your own time. it's empowering, you know.

you deserved that party, even more, for what can they call your 40 years with your office. you have grown with them, they have grown with you, said goodbye to many, welcomed new ones. it must have been your second home, your second family. i'm sure you will miss your second home, but only for a while.

good luck, Annamanila, good luck dear friend--a new chapter in your life is at hand.

freeze said...

Although you didn't get what you fancied, you know deep inside that you've touched the lives of these people (as much as you've touched the lives of your readers) and the same people returned the favor and managed to pull-off a surprise for you. :D

Abaniko said...

For you're a jolly, good fellow...

In the coming days, you'll have all the time to play scrabble and blog. :)

Toe said...

Clap! Clap! Hahaha... what a fun and rollickin' good riddance party Annamanila! Ang galing ng pagkakuwento mo ha! Tawang-tawa ako don sa hindi ka pinag-lipstick. :) And my golly... your dream ala-Oscar farewell just cracked me up! :)

rowena said...

Hi Myrna, my buddy, sorry I've missed the get-together with Chats and Cookie, blame it on a flat tire, he he...Anyway, happy semi-retirement. Now you can be called as a consultant, oh di ba sosyal pakinggan. LOL! Hope to see you one of these days, join ako sa facial or spa with Chats ha...

Leah said...

Wow! What a treat! I'd be on cloud 9 too if I were you. Wonderful surprises like that are only bestowed to individuals who deserve it. Congratulations on your good riddance day. Although it is a gradual goodbye, somehow you'll manage to pack up all your things and let yourself go.

Enjoy the next chapter of Miss Annamanila's life.

lady cess said...

aaaw... that was so, so sweet! did they have a video of the party? can they please upload it on youtube? i'm particularly interested to see your grand entrance. must have been a tear-jerker. i love the way they greeted you with a song, usually they scream "surprise" diba.

exskindiver said...

i wish i was there to honor you MC.
i have only known you for a year and yet i feel like i have known you for 40 too.
that's because you read people well and you share well.
this is why you needed to be celebrated despite the "semi" part of retirement.
much love,

Heart of Rachel said...

That must have been a pleasant surprise. I'm sure it felt wonderful to be the recipient of admiration and good wishes.

Good luck and hope you'll continue to enjoy a fruitful life. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 40 years of service. That must be something. You must be looking forward to full time retirement. :)

At my workplace, retirement parties are scheduled and announced. That way, people who want to say goodbye can make plans to get time off from work. And I guess it's also good for the retiree so he or she can prepare a speech or something. :)

Btw, thanks for dropping by my blog and getting concerned for my lack of updates. Everything's a-ok with me. Thanks for asking. Just been really busy and always tired to even think of posting or bloghopping. :)

kate said...

hahah surprises! niiiiice one :) semi-retirement na tita? naks naman parang ang sarap na ng buhay :)

pining said...

must have been a lovely experience to work with you Anna as I don't think they'll do all that effort for nought... yeah, I wish I was there too :-)
wish you all the best on your semi-retirement (even better if that means more time for blogging he he)!

Belle said...

happy retirement dear Anna! what a clever way of staging a surprise party for you. you were totally caught off guard. but, announced or not, you did well.

please share with us your retirement pictures.

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