hometown

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.

 

 

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The Sound of Silence

nanay and i

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.

 

 

 

Breathe: Inhale, Exhale

U.g.h. I set my alarm the night before at exactly 5 o’clock AM and I didn’t wake up to T. Swift’s Shake It Off. Damn. It was supposed to be my blasting tone. Pretend you haven’t read this. Anyway, I was startled by my little bro’s tap on my foot. He said, “It’s five thirty already! Let’s go for a jog!”

Yes!

I grabbed my shoes and put on black socks. Changed into a cotton shirt. I wore my running shorts when I slept in the night. After few minutes, my brother and I were out of the door and started walking on the paved national road. The sun’s glowing in the horizon. Light volume of vehicles pass through. It was safe enough for us to tread on the curb, not on the sidewalks. We were 5 minutes away to the oval where we can jog around for few laps.

Breathing in, breathing out as we continue to walk. Deeply breathing fresh air up into my nostrils. Ah! Just cool and clean. I instantly felt a rush of relaxation in my chest. My mind’s warming up. All I can think of was my walking and breathing. I initiated a short talk with my brother about his plan on coming back at the metro to finish his review and his license exam. He was curt of his answers. My way of words to him were plain. I haven’t pep talked him at the moment. He knew what I would say. It’s not that I don’t know to appease him of his failure but I want him to recount all his efforts and just go on with his plans.

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I told him that I will jog and walk at the oval comes early morning. He answered, “Okay.” What I really had in mind was for him to really say yes easily. If not, I would encourage him. I wanted him as my company because this was my way of letting him drift off a bit from the stress compounded from his pre-license exam. He failed hapless on the 3rd try. He fell short of few points to pass it and be able to be certified by his university to take the national license exam this September. I know his mind was rattled.

Get out! Let your body rip some benefits of active physical activity for 30 minutes. An escape. De-stress from the last 2 days of mind and psyche challenge. Re-energize. Recharge.

We jogged for 2 laps around the oval and spent the rest of the time walking. We were there for 1 hour. There were also people doing their morning routine of run, jog and walk. Some student Cadets were having their training too.

After an hour, we decided to walk farther going to our dear uncle’s house. Maybe some 300 meters away from the school’s oval. It was our cool down after sweating it out. We walked home from there after rehydrating ourselves and having a morning chat with them. We walked on the curb again. Our backs were facing the sun and felt the warmth beneath my shirt. I needed to get some sunshine, Vitamin D.

When we got home, I felt good. I was hoping the same feeling for my little bro too. I hoped it eased him of thinking too much. Tsk. I forgot to hug one of the old trees inside the campus.

Nighttime

Last Thursday night, September 18 was the kind of night that I expected when it is raining cats and dogs. Truly, when it rains, it pours. Underscoring this quote aside from the heavy rainfall our hometown was also engulfed in total darkness. I presumed it was precautionary by the power cooperatives since there were reports of flooding in nearby towns earlier before nighttime succumbed.

My hometown would not be spared really. We are one of the catch basins from rivers and streams runoff and down flow. With nothing to do after taking our dinner I decided to play with my reliable point-and-shoot camera. It was my way of killing boredom if only there was power I could have been couch potatoed watching a Korean Rom-Com series to cap my night off.

Nonetheless, my creative juices kept me alive and so pumped up that moment. At first I was just observing the intensity of rain based on sound as it hit our roof. There was a light wind. A few rustling but no howling. The main highway in front of our house was gradually flooding.

Then I saw these people walking, riding in motorbikes and pedicabs whenever there were buses and cars driving by with their headlights bouncing off on them.

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WPC: Carefree

WPC: Carefree

I can’t remember the exact words of my cousin M when he requested me to take this photo of him while they were on a “summer” vacation here in the Philippines. Besides this tropical one was once their called home before they emigrated to the maple country.

He was excited about this trip together with the rest of his siblings. There was quite a hurdle before this island hopping adventure was pushed through. One of them suffered gastrointestinal, or something like that, so as a precaution and not to disrupt the mood of a relaxing vacation, the need to cancel it was done.  (more…)