Monday, November 28, 2016

Hearing the sound of keys again

He asked for a mechanical writing machine, an unfamiliar apparatus in this information age.
A heavy duty steel Royal typewriter which served the documentation requirements in the 60’s up to the 90’s has been unused for almost four and half decades.

It is working but dusty, mechanical parts needed oiling to smoothen the movements and the keys intact though stained and had to be brushed.
Months ago, I spotted a number of shops along Evangelista st. in Quiapo displaying similar units of various models, brands and types: portable, heavy duty, electric, steel and hardened plastic case. All obsoletes in today’s digital era.

To fulfill the request satisfactorily, I wanted the typewriter cleaned, overhauled and rehabilitated. Without driving to Quiapo and taking a private transport, how do I transport this 15 kilo piece of steel to the shop 18 kilometers away from Quezon City?

Ride the LRT2 lugging the unit in a trolley from Anonas to Recto.

I parked at a nearby supermarket with access to the LRT entrance and pulled the trolley at the main asphalted road of Aurora Boulevard preferring it over the uneven surface of the tiled pedestrian lane.

Going through the mandatory inspection at the gate, the lady guard stopped me to ask for guidelines from an officer via radio. She reported and asked, “a man with a big typewriter in a trolley with wheels without any wrapping is here. Should we allow?” Overhearing the conversation, I protested loudly, “This is not any different from a school boy’s bag on wheels, except that the unit is exposed.” The officer further probed, “is there a chance the trolley will roll-over?” “It will not sir because it has handle and he can control it.”

Clearance was eventually given allowing me to step inside beyond the clearing table. The conscientious guard perhaps as part of her training asked a brusquely male tending to the K9 dog to carry the trolley for me in climbing the stairs up to the entrance. I managed beyond the turnpike, slid the trolley at the working escalator up to the platform. Luckily that Sunday afternoon, there were available seats.
About 20 minutes later, I was thinking of an approach to maneuver the long climb down the exit. Without any hesitation, a young gentleman voluntarily lifted the other end of the trolley handle to assist me up to the next and the forthcoming platforms until it was easy to pull to trolley. I expressed my sincere thanks for the unsolicited assistance and kindness.
Walking to the repair shop along cemented  Evangelista st. about a 100 meters away from the exit was a breeze. Upon my sight, instantly, Mang Nestor, an elderly man, veteran in typewriter repairs since the 70’s understood my requirements and worked on the overhaul.
He wiped off the visible dirt using a white cloth, blew away the stubborn dirt with an electric air blower, brushed the keys with a steel brush and a thinner, unscrewed the blank roller and checked on the moving mechanisms and screws.
All the keys were working including the “ň.” The tab insert and release buttons were functional, magic margin release operational, the heavy and light touch mode was working, ribbon cartridges moving and the roller spacing and movement sliding precisely. Mang Nestor showed off his typing skill and speed in typing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” not once but at least five times to prove the machine has  been cleared for another several decades of forthcoming heavy duty work.
Thirty minutes after I surrendered the unit, the rehabilitated Royal was more than ready to take in the pounding to document mechanically compositions. I was charged P400 for the expertise (excluding the LRT toll fee), almost a token payment for the priceless restoration of memories.
Taking the return route back home, I was more confident of getting manpower and machine assistance. After the security inspection at the Recto station, I proceeded to the senior citizen help desk to request for a hand which was readily provided for without asking for proof of age.
At the destination at the Anonas station, I took the Super Metro access where the escalators down to the road level were working.
Back home that same afternoon, I placed the typewriter at a table with bond paper inserted to proudly present an accomplishment and compliance to a request without the benefit of narrating the drama behind the achievement.
My father, who requested for the typewriter positioned his left and right hands at the keyboard, pounded some keys, heard the sound, felt the motion but did not imprint a line. It did not disappoint me.
For me, it was enough that the typewriter episode triggered a recall of stories about his proficiency in typing during his schooling days, hearing again the sound of the keys during my elementary and high school days which for decades have not  been played. It made me see again in my mind typed documents created by the dynamic mind of a storyteller shared to us in a printed medium. This was made possible because of a skilled typist who documented his thoughts in paper for us to appreciate using the typewriter.
These were the intangible rewards that motivated me to go beyond the ordinary for the difficult task of complying to a simple request.

Delivering the request was certainly more fulfilling than the thrill and fun of writing this piece of article using a manual typewriter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

An inspiring enduring human spirit

On the day Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila September 25, 2009, Marvin Urbino was in Harrison Plaza in Pasay attending to a client. Marvin, a trained massage therapist was not aware of the magnitude the disaster exacted in his place in Cupang Marikina, about 28 kilometers away.

Luckily, the MRT and the connecting LRT 2 did not suspend operations that tragic day. He got off at the Katipunan station and walked home wading in the floods with his cane alone. Striding by instinct and basic navigation skills, he safely reached home.
That was risky for Marvin as he is blind. His optic nerve was damaged beyond cure when he was still in high school. This eye condition, genetically influenced has already affected three generations in their family. From his generation, he was so far the lone unfortunate casualty of a vision loss.

Recalling the day he was diagnosed with the disease in 1993, he was angry. He stopped schooling not completing his high school degree. He stayed mainly in his room feeling sorry for his helpless condition isolating himself from the rest.
Until slowly, he started to accept his fate learning to do household chores first eventually specializing in cooking. He learned to sharpen his other senses such as smell, touch and sound. Little by little, he stepped out of his comfort zone and exposed himself to the outside elements again.

In 1995, two years after, he was introduced to National Vocational Rehabilitation Center NVRC, a ESCOPA-based organization that specializes in the development of the welfare of the blind teaching them skills to be confident and self sufficient. He underwent training to graduate as a massage therapist.

Like a normal human, years after, he eventually met a relationship, got married in 1998 raising four caring kids.
As Marvin still has some vision of light although blurred, unlike his other colleagues who are completely blind, he leads fellow therapists on the use of cell phones, navigation gadgets as the GPS and of course cooking. He has a sharp sense of smell ably identifying local ingredients, spices and condiments. Surprisingly he picks up new recipes from televised cooking shows.
Recalling Ondoy 7 years ago, he wants to be better prepared for disasters. He would like to learn 1st aid for himself and others and be taught how to swim for endurance. His swimming stroke is unscientific limited to wading.
Listening to what he has gone through, his practical request is doable. As I am neither a certified Red Cross Philippines instructor nor a professional swimmer, I ask that I write instead on his behalf. A small feat for someone who inspires and whose anger has slowly been transformed to a positive attitude and helplessness converted to self confidence and self sufficiency.
Marvin is an inspiring enduring human spirit. He works at RM Massage Clinic at the Riverbanks Mall in Barangka Marikina. If you wish to support his request to enhance further his survival skills, visit their clinic. Tel (632) 463 9648.