FOR the past several Sundays my wife and I have taken trips to Toril. We have gone there twice because we buy flowers for our home. Now that my wife has been unburdened by really stressful work, she now has the time to do the things she likes, one of which is beautifying our garden. So for two Sundays now we go on this long drive and we have fun doing it. The reasons are varied.

We play her ipod which has only 396 songs but they are very selected songs, every song is good. At least for our generation. Second reason why we like the trip is that we get to talk and laugh and count stuff. We play a game while we cruise. Third, it is a time to unwind and just drive slow and just take in a lazy Sunday morning. The most recent drive , we were lucky. It was cool and cloudy. Perfect for a Sunday getaway.

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The first time we went I stayed in the car while Chona went flower shopping. As a result my flowery wife had to hurry because she was worried about me being in the car. So the next time we went I went down and accompanied her while she went skipping along. My wife loves flowers. And so while she went merrily along, I strolled along the garden. I have to admit it was fun doing it because of the so many flowers and plants that I saw. There is something refreshing and invigorating about a garden.

We bought a lot of flowers that I cannot remember all the names. But the ones that I like were the magic flowers; those that come in an explosion of vibrant wonderful colors. And we were lucky because we saw a lot of magic flowers not only in the garden that we were in but also in the garden beside it.

We decided to go to the other garden and we had a very pleasant and heartwarming experience there not because of the flowers but because of the owner of the place. Her name is Aling Nenita and I think she is in her late 60's or early 70's. What really made us smile was her exuberant spirit that was so infectious.

When she emerged from her house, she was all smiles and laughter. She had this wonderful countenance that made Chona and I just like her. We started choosing the flowers we wanted and she cheerfully, and that is the word for it, pruned them. While she was cutting the flowers, she was telling us stories and laughing and smiling that Chona and I just watched this extraordinary woman who seemed to have no cares in the world.

It seemed that her world revolved around her flowers and plants. And that she treated her flowers and plants with kindness and a certain reverence. She was someone you could talk to all day. She was someone who was simple and true and kind. She was a child lost in garden. We ended up buying more than what we expected but it was worth it! She even added a few flowers. It was really fun talking to that woman. When we paid her she loudly exclaimed, " hay salamat maka palit na ako ug asukal oara sa kape!" That was really quite an experience.

When we got back in the car we were somewhat renewed. Chona told me that she decided to buy more flowers because of the aura that Aling Nenita had. We were hoping that her liveliness would somehow be in the flowers that she helped grow and that life, that wonderful aura would manage to be part of our garden. That woman was really a great person.

While we were driving home we talked about her. I mean here she was living in a simple house surrounded by her garden. The flowers that she grew by hand and by her sweat. This woman who was so infectious with her smile and her genuine love and she was simple. As far as we know she lives a simple quiet quaint life.

While most of us are so enamored and perhaps even obsessed with material things. We crave for signature clothes while this woman had simple clothes. We want diamonds and pearls while this woman had magic flowers and Baby's Breath to keep her happy. We want cars and mansions while this woman was content with her simple home and money for sugar and coffee.

I remember this rich person who likes to brag about her wealth. She tells people that she cannot leave the house if she does not have 50,000 in her bag. And then I remember Aling Nenita. I wonder who is happier.

Aling Nenita lives somewhere in Toril, far from the noise that we make, far from the chaos that we create. She does not care about Gucci bags or Ralph Lauren perfumes. Nor does she care about luxury cars or 2500 haircuts. She has found the secret that has eluded most of us. That life is simplicity that life is how we look at things.

In her garden Aling Nenita is happy, among her flowers she is alive. She has magical flowers indeed.