family

Roots

Before finishing my college degree, I have had some pit stops along the race. Two semesters, a total of one school year that I chose to let go and pass. It was a sound decision I made to ease some financial stretch for the family. My elder brother was due to graduate of his degree in one year after I started my college. We both attended the same university.

I didn’t take a leave of absence at my university. I didn’t even notify my business course department. Freshman as I was, the innocence of running aground with my course department leave past me. New friends, new environment was a battle ground for me. None of my high school classmates more so friends decided to study at the university much take the same business course.

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The first semester that I stopped was the second half of my freshman year. I told Mother that I am taking the back seat to give way to our elder brother. The expenses were evident and instant so it would be difficult to sustain our every day living as students if both of us were attending.

I was seventeen years old. I thought of working part-time and still attend college even for a limited units of subjects. Mother discounted the idea of it. She iterated that I might not finish my degree and my tendencies to never come back home. I knew of her saying this again when I stopped for one semester during my junior year. Discoursing my thoughts with her to consider and change her saying no went up one time.

Still it was a no for her. After hearing her stern, calm voice I let my wings down. I was thinking what really made her to say no. After, I thought maybe it has something to do with me saying once while in an emotionally vulnerable state that, “I don’t want to stay in this house, in this place anymore.

This house, this place I was referring to is our home, our hometown. The home, the hometown where we grew up and continue to live until today.

Detaching and separating myself from this place sometimes pass the back of my mind up to this day. But I just can’t. Mama fuels, inspires our dreams. Mama is home.

 

 

The Sound of Silence

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Nanay with me

During the two months school break, this falls on April and May, we spend the last week of April staying with our maternal grandparents. Together with my three brothers we are in the company of our Tatay and Nanay sharing dinners and helping them with everyday household chores. And the dreaded limited TV time. It sucks but somewhat good for us.

Taking this one week vacation with them is more like taking volunteer work. Not that we are complaining or we do not want to be with our grandparents but young and carefree as we are back in those days we choose to spend our afternoons lounging or watching TV. If we are at their place during that week, we run for the clock. Every hour counts and we need to have something to do and be good at it.

Simple household chores make most of that to-do list. From making our beds the moment we woke up to sweeping the yard off with dead leaves in the late afternoon. In doing this, we have to observe silence and focus to doing it right. Nanay is strict and commands strong. Her voice alone makes us jump out of our seats or whatever we are doing. That’s the way she runs her household when we are there. But it is not really necessary because we are as reserved as Tatay. Maybe I got my reservations from him. Our parents made sure we behave well and respect elders. Thinking about it now, maybe Nanay just anticipated our rowdiness and tendencies to escape of her house to explore neighboring empty lots and mini jungle.

We grew up exposed to cemented roads, sparsely green public playground and uncomfortable mini park. Staying at our grandparents is our time to get to really take a walk under the trees along an empty dirt road. Running around and playing tag on an eerie lot lined with coconut trees and bamboos is all we do when it’s not too hot. We do this along with our cousins that lives there too.

I really enjoy this part of school break. I get to shout on top of my lungs with all the trees only staring at me. I am the weird nature loving kid. I can’t keep myself when I am outdoor. I touch the leaves. Hug the tree trunks. Pick some stones and throw it as far as I can. Get on top of those empty ant mounds and do a spread like an eagle with its wings open. Running along furrow after furrow without tripping. Just wanting to get some dirt on my feet and feel the warmth of the earth.

All of these we get to do when we’re finished with all the tasks. Nanay approves of it and would let us take the time out. Our mother gets to put off her parent hat during this time too. A short break when she returns home and be a doting daughter to her mother as well.

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Tatay with my cousin H

With all these gallivanting, Tatay is just reserved and nearby. I know he pretends looking at his carabaos but he is watching over us. He is such a quiet man. As I write this, imagining his voice and tone is lost in me. He speaks in low but round voice. Sometimes raspy at the end. His face stern at times but always kind in appearance. A memorable spot where we would gather around him when he is sitting on his rocking chair taking his time too.

Either one of us would sit on one of the arm rests or the rest of us would just sit on the ledge at the veranda. We do this late in the afternoons. I can’t remember what do we usually talk about. I was in third grade when he died and I can only remember so much of him.

With Nanay, we get to spend a little more time of her company. But I still miss them at their old house. The house as of today doesn’t feel like home anymore. It’s a dissonance of what it was like when they were still living but the memories and silence linger on.

 

It’s been a while since I got there.

 

 

 

March 15

March 15, 2016*

 

Last night I binged watch the latest season of Suits. A part of me was entertained, frustrated and left hanging based on how this latest season attacked their fears and kicked ass their way on the varied situations they themselves knew before stepping on it.

As I lie in bed to sleep I was glad I dozed off instantly. No ideas or insane imaginations to better future clouded my peaceful state. One thing popped out though, to get to this journal and write an entry on it. I got lazy and just turned off some lights to honor my brain telling my body to take the night off already. I think it was 1:45 am on the clock.

I started reading The Catcher in the Rye. I have it on a small book edition. I’ve been reading it for a couple of days and just can’t get in the zone of what I am really reading. For every page turned, I’m wanting to reread it. But I know it will just get me nowhere as far as reading goals are concerned. There’s a stack of options waiting for me. These books are looking at me. The least, they are not begging. I suppose.

 

sailingI made my twin sister a somewhat kind of personalized journal as my send-off gift to her. To be honest, I was happy I made her that. Thinking of wanting to gift her the past couple of weeks I felt uninspired and the feeling of homesickness is just wandering in front of my thoughts. She will be leaving and distance is inevitable. This time the possibility of how often we will meet is undetermined. Even the meeting over the internet. I guess the lengthy chat messages will be physical enough of this meeting we look forward to.

My homesickness is really fueled by the fact that they are no longer in the same house I can conveniently come to visit them as my family. When urban loneliness succumbs me they are no longer there to be company and regain my spirit. Dramatic as it sounds it lightens my heart to say this, to write about it because it is something that feels like home and family. That while at some point it is sad to see them go but you know it is always for the best and you just have to be happy and accepting about it.

New memories. Days are passing. Bumps are evidently laid on every road and driving around it sometimes is easy and sometimes it’s not. A constant reminder that life is never a bubble of what we always wanted. Deal with it when that time comes.

 

 

 


*As of to date this is my last journal entry. My first to share here in this blog. Over the course of my blogging it is where I draw some inspirations and pull out previous random thoughts that I can write about. Sharing this specific entry describes my present excitement towards writing more about new experiences in life.

 

Indelible Memory: My Mother’s Life Tales

My mother’s thinking have matured beyond her at such a young age. That’s what I think, based on stories of her growing up in a big family. I would hear her whenever she injects some wisdom on us during some talks about life concerns that our minds too need some growing up. Need some maturing. Not the body alone. This I would always hear inside my head playing when I am faced with doing a decision.

The first time I heard her saying this, I don’t understand her. I couldn’t fathom what she really meant. But now I would like to believe that I am making it up to her when it comes to this maturation. Still there are things that need figuring out and I am on it.

She indeed imprinted on us, her brood, wise words that whether we like it or not will tick on us. It has stuck on us.

 

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She had an early scratch of life’s challenges with her being the eldest child. Hard work and helping her parents put food on the table were constant reminders of what she thinks about getting ahead and making dreams come true. She was a working student all throughout her scholarly life. Holding on to graduating from college on time because she was just relying to a relative she’s working for to pay her schooling.

When she finally passed her license exam for teachers, all her hard work and sacrifices, she knew that it was the testament of a better life altogether for her and her family. Being a young professional, a newbie on the education system, she had her experiences of new sacrifices and hard work that came with her profession. She was near thirty when she passed her license. She spent her early practice teaching in some far-flung town of our province. Distant from family and limited to her co-teachers as her company, she endured the place for quite some time though faced with the hurdle of longing of family and the hardship of that poverty-stricken town. She has gotten to a point of taking the easy exit and never to return again to that place but she went on. Eventually, she got a move on a post back to her hometown.

Settling to family life was never a rush for her. Before she chose to marry and have her own family, she wanted to ground herself to a job that will sustain her family. Independent as she is she made sure of that it will happen and it did. She made it. She married on her early thirties and had my eldest brother a year after her marriage. She had me three years later. And two more brothers came after me.

She told me that I was conceived in between miscarriages. She was not having difficult pregnancies with us four boys. But those miscarriages were their shot at trying to have a girl in the brood. So the three years gap between the four of us were not really as they planned as it is.

 

Last Mother’s Day, I greeted her. No card just like I used to do when I was younger. No written post on social media and even a blog post like what I would want to. But I cooked her early that night a creamy tuna pesto pasta. While I set the table for the two of us, my 3rd brother hasn’t come home yet, I kidded her that this is her Mother’s Day cake. She silently sat opposite me and as if she never heard what I just said. No reaction at all. I looked at her and shrugged my shoulder. Just so, I sat and forked some pasta on my plate after her.

mom and iThese bits of her life’s tales were what I asked her while we were having that dinner. She’ll segues some interesting reactions about anything but in my mind I was creating this thoughts of writing more about her. I was having this fear that I may forget eventually some of her stories. That’s it, another fear I realized, oblivion. Dragging her into oblivion. Inasmuch, I want to write her because I want her thoughts, her words to be remembered early as today while she is having the time of her retirement life and enjoying our company, her children and the rest of the family.

To good health and more Mother’s Day to spend with you.

 

My love to you, Mama, always.

 

 

Outside My Couch

OVER THE WEEKEND I had the chance to gather my backpack and put in my hammock. This weekend is about family time, sharing company and making memories. I was with my maternal uncle’s family hitting the road at dawn on the way to a beach I have never been to. Excitement ran through me.

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Just for a couple of hours I can get out. Feel and commune again with nature solely this time. Nothing in mind but spare leisure time with people you get along well. Adding to this was the food we brought. Home cooked meals that is thoughtfully made by a mother longing for her children’s hugs and banter while they live on their own at the big city. Holiday breaks is the only time of year they get to come home again and reunite.

She cooked for their missed out staples at home. Meals in the city doesn’t come close to the warmth, the memories that every flavor it brings out. That distinct home cooked flavor. That smokey taste and aroma of wooden fired stove. Indeed, food is memories.

Memories about family. Memories of having the time together.

The sea breeze smelled of moss. Really it was weird not to smell of salt but it was refreshing. By the time we waited for the sun rise, walking by the coarse sandy shore, the water is cold. Enough to what we all wanted, to cool ourselves from the hot weather of this year’s dry season. Intensely mad heat it was the couple of days past.

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While we were settled at the beach hut I saw a boat loaded with men and a woman approaching the shore. We all thought that they have already with them some fresh catch. My uncle intends to buy a tuna or anything that we can feed to the grill and eat comes lunch time.

As they offloaded and docked their boat, we saw them with a wooden contraption being turned. So much like the reel of a fishing rod where you spool the string once you caught something. This one is huge and it is attached to a net. They are hauling their what could be a big catch on that day. A couple of men, women, some kids and dogs gather round on the shore as they continue to haul in the net which they might have cast the night before.

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This sight was never new to me but it amazes me every time I have the chance to see fishermen doing what they do best. My younger years I was exposed to doing some farm work during summer time at my paternal grandfather’s. I learned to sow corn seeds on a freshly plowed earth. I wanted to learn how to maneuver the plough pulled by a water buffalo.

My grandmother begged off because I was a little bit small and she feared I might be pulled by the animal if I called out a wrong command. I insisted that the verbal command is easy. I just needed to learn how the rope works because it is where the buffalo relies on. How loosely or tightly you pull and flick it sends signal to the way it walks through the field.

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I am fascinated how they live their lives out here. How they thrive and sustain. I’ve learned from the books since that this sector of our country is left out and measly a fisherman’s income isn’t enough to earn a better keep for himself and his family. The irony of how rich my country is when it comes to our marine resource. I can only say so much because I don’t want to get so serious on this.

I went my way around them, taking their picture in their state of busy-ness. I felt excited seeing the net get closer to the shore and see if we have, I mean, they, have a big catch that morning. My excitement transcend to an urge inside me to help in hauling out the net but I restrained myself in doing so because I don’t want to feel intrusive. I contended to just taking some more shots of them. Watching their faces and actions as they continue to pull in.

More of them gather round where the net finally was hauled out and unfortunately it wasn’t a big of a catch. Sighs and low quips could be heard among them. From where I stood I clearly heard some of them that they might have reeled the net too quickly. Then the group dispersed quietly. My cousin went near the end of the net and found that small fishes and a squid were caught. Not even a pail could be filled of it.

My uncle walked away knowing we don’t have a fish to grill. It was his birthday that day. He too was excited to buy some fish but there’s just no fish to his wanting. He still got cake though and his birthday suit—rash guard and walking shorts.

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We returned to our hut and change to our beach wears. I could still see them afar that they put back the net on the boat and will be casting it again. I hoped they got lucky the next time they hauled it in.