love

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.

img_20160709_114017.jpg

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

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.

IMG_1511

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

mama

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.

 

 

They Got Me A Cake

IMG_1870
YES, THEY DO! Of course, it was a surprise birthday cake for me. I couldn’t stop myself from not immortalizing their thoughtful gesture and not write about them. Having a cake for my birthdays has passed me and it really doesn’t feel less of a birthday if I don’t have one. Celebrating such a day is but a normal day to me, contented in sharing a dinner with my family or having a drink or two with my friends.

I may have to say they got me this time. And I thank them so much for such sweetness.

It felt awkward having to see a dedication written for me on the cake. Not that I don’t like it but as I have said before, it has passed me to receive and be gifted with a cake. My expectation of celebrating my day quietly came out with a loud bang before the end of it. I really appreciate what they got for me and it made me more sentimental since we couldn’t be in one table to share this cake. Distance and work may have come between us but it continues to make us look forward to each others’ company especially on our birthdays no other.

IMG_1875This is my obligatory photo with my cake and I sent this through chat with these dearest friends to let them know that I did get the cake especially hand delivered by one of their trio. The surprise trio as I want to call them. They too signed the cake not with their names by with their own family names—their beaus surnames—making me gasp upon opening the box immediately as insisted by Bebs that I read whom this cake is from.

As we tread and make each of our lives, I believe in our friendship more. My regard to them seem to grow larger as they build their own families. Our mutual respect and acceptance also deepens. Communication has been automatic, open and more considerate of time when making replies.

I must say, I have made my fatty heart larger for them. Because I love you and your families. Thank you.