The Lottery.

(an entry to an essay writing contest)

The Lottery.

Admit it. You’ve fantasized about it. You’ve lustfully longed for that single moment of pure exhilarating glory.  You’ve always wanted to win the lottery.

But God said, “My child, you need to work your **s off and reap the fruits of hard labor through the annual Christmas bonus and 13th-month pay and through SSS, Pag-Ibig and Philhealth upon retirement age.

So off to work you go.

The fantasy ends and reality begins.

The alarm clock rings at five thirty in the morning, and you drag yourself out of bed because you have to get rid of the disturbing pile of laundry and cook a hearty breakfast and sweep the floors until they’re spotless and bathe the dog and feed the kids all before eight thirty in the morning. Married people are superheroes in disguise.

You work all day, slaving in front of a jurassic computer, sorting out layer upon layers of government documents, feeling like a silly demi-god who approves and disapproves and delays and expedites. The workforce is tough. But this is your world.

You go home at five o’clock, lustfully yearning for the comfort of your middle-class bed with bargain bed sheets and buy one take one pillows. You’d like to take a bubble bath but you don’t have a tub so you’d settle for a cold shower in your cramped bathroom with cracked tiles. You think of bumming in front your eight-year-old non-HD 21-inch television with a pack of peanuts and cold glass of soft drink but you can’t because the kids, the grandmas, the house help and the next door neighbors are dying to know the next plot in the telefantastic primetime series.

Because this routine of yours is like clockwork, you relentlessly pursue your lottery dreams. Your future lies in the random numerical combinations that sprout from your heart and head. Your chances of winning big are calculatedly slim. And yet, it gives you a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, life could be better than this. . . That maybe, just maybe, lady luck smiles upon you.

Still, mid-month harsh reminders of reality get delivered to your door.

Electric bills. Insurance. Water bills. Groceries. Phone bills. Appliances. Cable TV bills. Credit Card bills. Bills.

You get sucked into an abysmal vortex of lifestyle redundancy. Romance begins and ends in your imagination. Passion is overtaken by habit. Spontaneity is overshadowed by responsibility.

Department store raffle draws give you that welcome surge of adrenaline amidst monotonous day-to-day living and lottery picks are tiny specks of colorful fantasies in your black and white reality.

This – – – this gives you hope.

So why pick this? Why pick me?

Pick this because this is the story of two ordinary people who have unselfishly devoted their lives to their families. Not one, but two families. Not one, but two households. These people have given up their dreams just so others could fulfill theirs.

Choose this because you might be able to give two individuals a chance to momentarily leave behind their middle-class domestic lifestyle and immerse themselves in a world that truly defines comfort and luxury. So that they may fully enjoy high quality memory foam beds with goose feathers comforters. And watch high definition cable on huge LCD screens. Solo ownership of the TV remote control. Tranquility at its finest.

This story could be about you. You waking up every morning, thinking that this day is seemingly no different from the last.  Ordinary you, hoping and wishing that maybe, just maybe, life could get better than this. You – – – who would like to enjoy bubble baths and hot showers in a squeaky clean ginormous bathroom. Or eat breakfast food that you didn’t cook yourself. Rest and relaxation.

Pick me. Because I believe that ordinary people deserve extraordinary surprises. Even for just one day. Even for just awhile. Even for just a minute. To play fairy godmother or genie or quasi-DTI representative for just one time because you believe that good things happen to great people.

Pick me. Because I have a dream.

To make them feel like royalty.

To make them believe that some dreams do come true.

To show them that their reality could be far more better than their fantasies.

But most of all, to say Thank You in an entirely unconventional public way for all their selfless acts and countless sacrifices for the family.

To the two people who have always dreamed of winning the lottery.

To two individuals who have taught me how to dream. And to hope. And to pray. And to write.

This one is for you.

Love, your daughter.

Paradise. And Beyond.

“Welcome to luxury.” … the resort brochure states.

Yes. You have reached paradise. Let your vacation begin.

You sit on your private seaside terrace with spectacular views of greenery and landscaped blooms, meters away from the rising tide and then you start to think…

Don’t you sometimes wonder how you could possibly miss the opportunities to enjoy the simple pleasures of life? Like how the sun spectacularly sets amidst rippling cool seawaters. Or how the air smells refreshingly  pure with just a hint of ocean mist and cow dung. Or how the chirping of crickets lull you to a peaceful slumber and quasi catatonic stage. Or how the presence of your family and friends give you a warm and comfortable fuzzy feeling. This is the life. And this is how life should be. Peaceful. Content. Serene. Sober. And grateful.

With a seemingly endless selection of cable TV channels, an extraordinarily comfortable bed with 900 thread count bed sheets. The fluffiest sort of pillows that just swallow up your big city-person head. The luxurious feel of a semi-public peek-a-boo bathtub  filled with the tantalizing floral aromas out of a resort-branded bottle of bubble bath soap. Grime-free transparent shower panels manufactured to not leave anything for personal privacy. And of course, those little take-me-home hotel bottles of shampoo and bodywash for your ever growing collection of ultimate vacation memorabilia.

Yep. This is how life should be. Comfortable. Luxurious. Everyday should be a vacation.

Great concierge service means being driven to your room in a sparkly white service golf cart with a butler to carry your Speedo bags, your laptop case and the pretentious sports bag containing your smuggled goods of canned beer and assorted junkfood and the plastic of container of corned-tuna-that-you-must-have-for-breakfast-but-really-you-just-don’t-wanna-pay-for-the-1,200-pesos-per-person-for-breakfast-rate. What a nice butler you have turning a blind eye to your poor smuggling talents.

Amazing welcome services mean when they bring you your complimentary welcome drinks, they ask you if you’d prefer wine because you look like a stress-driven hag. Ah. Sympathy for alcoholic anonymous members.

Prompt delivery means when you want ice, they hand deliver it to your villa and ten minutes later because you think the ice has taken imperfect shapes and is not your desired frozen texture, they deliver another bucket pronto. Maybe if you demand an ice carving of Shaquille O’Neal, they just might give that.

Technical assistance means sending their IT person because you can’t connect to the wifi and the kind sir fixes your computer bugs as extra service. Hello free internet. Hello email. Hello Facebook. Wootwoot.

Outstanding Bar services here. You could lose your non-alcoholic resolutions at this place. An order of double shot bailey’s comes with mixed nuts with an aesthetic value worthy of Masterchef of the Universe positive criticism and if you bat your lashes the kindest bartender will give you seven extra red super plum cherries.

Superb Facilities and amenities include a 4 feet infinity pool, 3.5  feet plunge pools and numerous fountains, which spout perfectly synchronized jets of crystal clear chlorinated waters, boasting hues of royal blue which sparkle against the midday sun and becomes intensely translucent when the sun sets and darkness falls. Swimming is great physical exercise for vertebrates especially if your vertebrae falls under the scoliotic slash osteoporosis-bound category. And if you swim one lap in this pool and fail, you most definitely are on the verge of lung collapse from all the torrid smoking of your adolescence. But… BUT… don’t you worry. Beneath the contemporary and industrial designs of these hydro magnificence runs the glorious fountain of youth. Carry on. Swim forth and reproduce.

Yep. This is how life should be.

Butlers. Golf carts to ride to your room. Perfect ice. Fastest wifi ever. Beer. Baileys. Smuggling isn’t considered a crime punishable by law. Breathtaking views of the ocean when you wake up and when you sleep. Super sanitized bathrooms. Unlimited stationery. Free pens. Your own private pool. All with seven cherries on top.

But life isn’t like this.

When the vacation ends and we go home to our non-airconditioned humble abodes, the fantasy ends.

Buy one take one bedsheets from a popular local department store. Stiff neck pillows. Kabo-and-balde and a dysfunctional shower head which leaves you the impression of having someone spit on you. A refrigerator full of take-out fast food and remainders of yesterday’s lunch. An open bottle of local rhum. Freezers which take forever to produce one tray of miniature ice cubes. Disgustingly disappointing internet service provider. And ho-hum views of your next door neighbours firewall. No cherries. No pool.

But it’s your life. And you chose to live that life. And it’s your house. Moreover, it’s your home.

That tiny little piece of real estate and that old school roofing with flawed architectural home structure is the only place you could call home. With the endearing boisterousness that comes with the presence of your loved ones and the redundant yipping of your beloved canine. Yes. That is home. And you realize that no other place could ever be like this; even the most idyllic spot in the entire galaxy could never be at par with the simple excellence of your warm, lovingly built home.

You don’t actually miss the opportunities to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. You just miss the opportunities to be thankful for all the little things you take for granted everyday. Like watching obstructed views of the sunset from your shabby chic garage. Or listen to the polluted but familiar air rustling the leaves of the mango trees outside your window. Or enjoying the innocent laughter of random genetically unrelated children smashing your figurine collection. Or how the presence of your loved ones make you feel that nothing else in the whole entire world matters but them.

Your vacation has ended and your departure from paradise catapults you back to reality.

Some will say ‘we’ll always have paris’. But you – – – YOU will always have those hotel bottles of citrus scent shampoo and body wash proudly displayed on the bathroom cabinet. To remember the fun times. And to remind you that you could always bring a little piece of paradise, relive a little bit of the fantasy , and share a little bit of luxury to wherever home may be. J