Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Kay linaw pa ng aking mga alaala noong kami'y maglalakbay sa kung saan-saang mga lugar, minsan maiikli, minsan mahahabang oras sa kalsadang dati-rati'y hindi naman naaantala ng matinding pagsikip ng mga kalye tulad ngayon sa Maynila. Maliit pa lamang ako noon, isinasakay na niya ako sa harapan, tangan ko ang mumunti kong bag, at ang batok ko'y namumuti pa sa pulbos na dumikit sa Johnson's Baby Cologne na ipinahid ng nanay ko. Isasaksak na niya ang cassette tape ni Julio Iglesias at kami'y lalarga na papuntang Caloocan, Montalban, Quezon o sa palengke sa pagitan ng Navotas at Malabon. May mga panahon ding iiwan namin ang kotse sa Cubao at mula roo'y papapasahe na kami sa bus o di kaya'y lalakarin na lamang ang aming patutunguhan. Hindi ko maipaliwanag ang tuwa ko sa tuwing sasamahan ko siyang lumabas at sisimulan ang aming pakikipagsapalaran. Natuto akong manatili sa aking upuan kahit masakit sa leeg ang seatbelt, tumanaw sa bintanang bahagyang bukas upang malanghap ang sariwang hangin, makinig sa lumang tugtugin, at higit sa lahat, makinig sa kanyang mga salaysay.
Ni minsan ay di ko nakitang mawalan ng direksiyon ang tatay ko kapag nagmamaneho siya. Palagi siyang sigurado sa daan, at kung maiba nang kaunti ay nalalaman niya kung saan lulusot ang bawat eskinita. Kung malibang man siya sa pag-iisip, itutuloy na lamang niya ang panibagong daan at mararating din namin ang kalsadang kabisado niya. Hinding-hindi siya aaming nawala siya sapagkat nahahanap din naman niya ang daang pabalik; sisipol na lamang siya at magmamane-obra patungo sa highway. Dahil dito'y natutunan ko rin ang mga pasikot-sikot sa iba't-ibang lugar, na nakatulong noong ako na mismo ang nagmaneho sa paglaon. Ang nakapagtataka rito'y hindi niya ako tinuruan magmaneho. Ang dahilan niya'y mabilis uminit ang kanyang ulo at wari niya'y hindi matatapos ang leksiyon sa dami ng beses niya akong kakagalitan. Subalit sa paglipas ng panahon, ako rin ang pinagkatiwalaan niyang humawak ng kanyang sasakyan kapag kinailangan kong hiramin ito.
Nang dinatnan na siya ng karamdaman, isa sa mga pinakadinaing niya'y ang makapagmanehong muli. Makailang beses din niyang patakas na dinala ang kotse nang walang paalam kahit para lamang pumunta sa botika, maramdaman lamang ang kakayahan niyang humawak ng manibela. Bagaman at halos pumutok na ang puso ko sa kaba sa tuwing mangyari iyon, may idinulot ding kaluwagan ng loob na naroon pa rin ang matapang at matatag na diwa ng tatay ko sa kabila ng kahinaan ng kanyang katawan.
Marahil, kaya ko napapanaginipan siyang nagmamaneho ay dahil naikintal na sa aking isipan ang kaniyang katatagan, na siyang pinaghuhugutan ko ng lakas at kaliwanagan sa mga pagkakataong nararamdaman kong ako'y naliligaw. Ipinapahiwatig niya sa aking hindi niya ako pinababayaan, at kung mangyari man na ako'y malito, kinakailangan ko lang mag-maneobra at hanapin ang tunay na daan na tiyak na matatagpuan ko sa susunod na kanto. Kinakailangan ko lamang manalig sa aking mga kakayahan, sumipol at huwag kaliligtaang may matututunan sa bawat daang tatahakin.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
It is a late dinner even by our standards (we usually eat between 8:30pm and 9:00pm), having returned from the Easter Vigil mass which ended at 10pm. There still is a bit of kare-kare and adobong pusit left over from the past few days, but we had those already for lunch. All these festive dishes remind me of Noche Buena and Christmas Day, as we celebrate the Resurrection with a special feast. However, we gather for each meal quietly, with a somber and reflective mood, as it is our first Easter without Dad.
It's times like these when I miss Dad the most. He would be second to the last to come to the table for a meal (I would be last), and everyone would hear his deliberate sigh and the heavy steps leading to the dining room. I knew I only had a few seconds left on the phone before I would hear him call me three times. "Chise, Chise, Chisey!" (he corrupted all of our nicknames to his liking.) I would then hurriedly say my whispered goodbye over the phone before he would blurt out, "Tama na yan! Oras na ng pagkain, puro telefono pa rin ang inaatupag!"
Meals were sacred at home, and everyone was expected to be at the table even if one had already eaten out. I was seated across him, and he would always scrutinise what I ate (and what I didn't). It would revolve around permutations of me eating too much rice or why I suddenly stopped eating rice, and how he loved to watch me eat. Magana raw, at nakakagana akong kumain. He always expected me to like anything he liked, and he was right most times. He would encourage me to eat the food of his days in Malabon, and I indulged him. In fact, it was an unwritten rule that any male friend or suitor who would visit the house would win his approval (to at least visit the house) if he had the appetite for an unfamiliar dish served to him -- be it eel (igat), horse (tapang kabayo) or sinigang sa dugo. He would actually feel a bit insulted if the offer to eat was declined, but it was almost always welcomed with gusto, since he also ate his meals so heartily, he could even make a man eat dirt if he wanted to.
Thus, meals at home were not just instances to feed our stomachs, they were important social events. It was at the dining table when we were at our most candid selves, and if ever there were any misunderstandings or grievances, it was always settled over a good meal. Somehow, food was usually enough to ease our misery because it just tasted so satisfyingly delicious.
When Dad started becoming very weak, I made it a point to dine with him whenever I could, be it early breakfasts and dinners during workdays, and every meal on weekends. Sometimes, when I would bring Mom to mass on Sundays, I would sneak back home and join Dad for his late breakfast, since he would just be waking up when we were already preparing for church. I wished that each time I ate with him, he would eat a bit more. His favorite was pancit, and we had it at least once a week, and, of course, with steamed rice on the side.
When I had trouble eating these past few weeks, I thought about Dad a lot. I never missed a meal while he was around (or at least I was good at hiding it), because he was always asking me to eat with him. He would even call me at work to check if I had lunch already; and if I left my lunchbox at home, he would drive to the bank to give it to me. That fateful day when I was hospitalised, I was having our favorite brunch fare of pinangat na banak, and I knew Mom ate it with me not because she liked it (she preferred it cooked paksiw-style) but because she wanted to see me eat again. Honestly, though, I felt all the more lonely because I missed Daddy.
Tonight, as I count the minutes before Easter Sunday, I look at the pancit served before us. More than the usual symbol for long life, it is an invitation for me to celebrate what my life has given me thus far. Here is Daddy, asking me to eat with him, and to let go of my loneliness. I sit beside my Mom, and get some. I make room for rice on my plate, and I imagine him laughing at my appetite for carbs.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I instinctively go inside my parents' room and find it empty. The phone rings, a neighbor informs me that another oldtimer has passed away. She is also sorry for not being able to visit Dad, but asked if we got the mass card she sent. I thank her for her sympathy. My voice echoes in the room and I realise it didn't used to resonate as much when we had carpet flooring before the flood.
I turn on Dad's 20-year-old AM/FM pocket radio and listen to his doctor's advice on herbal medicines on his 30-minute morning show. I hope to hear him mention about Dad, but he never does.
The house is abuzz with activity as we clean the rooms to await my family's arrival. Joy is coming home with the baby, and I was left at home to oversee things and to have time to prepare for a wedding I will be attending. It will be my first social event outside of family. I practice "Seasons of Love" in the car while I take a quick trip to the salon, and I remember the quotation I selected for Dad's tombstone, hearing it in my head in Dad's voice:
"Sa takipsilim ng buhay, ang tao'y susukatin lamang sa ngalan ng pag-ibig."
"Of course, I grieved. For a very long time. She was beside me, mainit pa nga ang katawan niya kaya hindi ko mapaniwalaang patay na siya."
Dad was telling me a story again, while driving to Malabon. We were in the new white Sentra, the aircon was cool, and Placido Domingo's cassette tape was playing on deck.
"Ang pinatutugtog ko noon was 'The End of the World', kinakanta ko 'yun 'pag nag-iisa ako, kasi ganun ang naramdaman ko noon. Gusto kong tumigil ang mundo para ipagluksa siya. Paanong magpapatuloy ang paligid ko gayong ang buhay ko ay nawalan na ng saysay?"
"Eh paano nga 'yun, Daddy?", I asked. I tried to remember the last time I felt really bad. My grandma's death? When I got humiliated in front of the entire class because I forgot my sewing project at home? I couldn't find anything that could approximate my Dad's loss. I haven't even thought about boys at that age, much less know anything about heartbreak.
"Nangyari na lang, I picked myself up. Gaya nung mamatay ang tatay ko nung 10 years old ako. Inisip ko, 'paano kami mabubuhay ng nanay ko?' I had no time to grieve dahil kinaumagahan kinailangan ko nang lumusong sa ilog para may makain kami. And so I did. Masaklap, pero kung hindi ko ginawa 'yun kaagad, magugutom kami ng nanay ko.
"Kasi anak, kapag ang tao'y namamatay, hindi naman siya nalulungkot. Ang nagpapalungkot sa kamatayan ay ang mga taong naiwan niya. It's the selfishness in the hearts of those that are left behind that makes them sad. Kaya dapat hindi ka malungkot kapag may namamatay. Kapag ako wala na, huwag kang malulungkot, ha? Aalagaan mo ang mommy mo, ang mga kapatid mo. Si Kuya Pepe mo at si Kuya Jun mo, huwag mo kakalimutan dahil kawawa naman sila."
"Eh paano naman yun, Daddy, pagdating mo sa heaven, asawa ka na ulit ni Tita Nading? Magagalit ka ba pag nakita mo yung Papa ni Kuya Dacky?"
Dad laughed. "Hindi, pag nagkita-kita na kami roon, magkakaibigan na kami lahat, siyempre. Alam mo ba, nung naghoneymoon kami ng mommy mo, nag-jogging ako habang natutulog siya sa hotel. Pagdaan ko sa isang garden, nakita ko si Nading. Nakatayo siya sa harap ko. Ang takot ko nun nung makita ko siya sa malayo. Parang buhay na buhay siya. Paglapit ko, nakangiti siya. Doon ko nalaman na masaya na siya para sa akin. Hindi siya nagsalita, pero naramdaman ko ang pagmamahal niya.
"Kaya huwag kang iiyak, ha? Ikaw ang inaasahan ni Dad. Ayoko ng malungkot. Gusto ko magsaya ka para sa akin. Kasi magkikita pa naman tayo. Tandaan mo lang ako paminsan-minsan."
It is now 11AM and I have yet to eat the pandesal with vienna sausage that Mom left me for breakfast. The maid absent-mindedly puts coffee in Dad's cup, and I volunteer to have it for myself. I wonder if I could actually finish it, having wasted cup upon cup after his death as it reminded me of how I would make it for him in the days when he could no longer feed himself. I check if the beef is tender for nilaga which we're preparing for lunch. Joy would love to have soup.
The dress I'll be wearing for the wedding is hanging on the wall, neatly pressed. I listen again to "Seasons of Love" and think about the friends I will be seeing later. My old room is now slowly being converted into the nursery/family room for Joy, Mitch and Baby Dylan. Soon, the house will be lively again as everyone will be fussing about the infant and the new mom.
"In the sunset of life, man will only be measured by love."
And so, 525,600 minutes begin once more for me, as I swim at every sunrise into the river of life to search for nourishment of my soul, guided by the love of a father who awaits me at the end, smiling and laughing at my clumsy yet determined strokes.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
“Huwag magbantay sa aking puntod at maghimutok;
Wala ako roon, hindi ako natutulog.
Ako ang sanlaksang bituing nagniningning;
Ako ang sanlibong hangin sa papawirin.
Ako ang mabining patak ng ulan;
Ako ang sinag ng araw sa butil na ginintuan.
Ako ang tahiimik na ibong masigla sa paglipad;
Ako ang mahinhing dasal sa magdamag…”
ATTY. MAGDALENO B. CORTEZ
Peacefully joined his Creator
on November 10, 2010 at the age of 82.
He is survived by his wife, Josie; his daughters Celia, Christine and Joy; sons Jose, Raul and Ricci; children-in-law Bong, Val and Mitch; and grandchildren Bianca, Monica, Fatima, Diego and Dylan.
His body lies at:
(November 10, 11 and 13, 2010)
Our Lady of Consolation Parish (OLCP) Church
Alondras Street, Mira-Nila Homes, Tandang Sora, Quezon City
(November 12, 2010)
43 General Borromeo Street, Longos, Malabon
Interment will be on Sunday, November 14, 2010
after the 9:00 AM mass at OLCP Church
at Holy Cross Memorial Park, Novaliches, Quezon City.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
"Hindi mo na ako kinikindatan. Dati lagi kang pakindat-kindat sa kin. Kaya mo pa ba ngayon?"
She responded by playfully nudging his right arm with her fist. Then he said in a toothless murmur,
Mom hugged him as best as she could, she with her stiff lumbar belt and he with his permanent chest dialysis catheter. She jokingly asked him if it would lead to something else, which prompted me to go to the bathroom. Not that they could do anything else, but I wanted them to share an intimate moment together, for these moments are golden and don't come too often.
One other reason, the more important one (than that of a learned patience of a mother) that keeps my Mom willing to sacrifice for my Dad is, well, love. It is not just the general sense of love for family, or the marital obligation to stay "in sickness and in health", or just plain compassion for a loved one. It is the feeling of being in love, and to be able to show your affection for your beloved in any condition.
They are still very much in love. In Dad's moments of disorientation, the only clear memory is that of my mother. Mom, in turn, never fails to make him smile when she is at her goofiest especially when he is difficult to care for. They look at each other with such sweetness that it clearly explains why any of us children could never be enough to fill his loneliness, which I suspect is frequent when he falls silent, only opening his mouth to ask when she will be with him again. I try to make small talk with Dad and update him on current events, but he seems to be more interested when Mom asks him if the soup is too hot. There was one evening when he refused to eat dinner, and only agreed when we put Mom on speakerphone to remind him to eat. It's not just love between spouses, it's as if they were "going steady" again.
I totally understand how it is to feel lonely for a specific person. I haven't seen Joe for quite a while, and airborne bacteria in the hospital is such an inconvenient risk for us to meet. Watching over my Dad is a full day's work with almost no chance for "me" time, and even phone calls are cut incessantly due to Dad's restlessness when he coughs or complains about any discomfort. We will be remembering our second anniversary next week, but we are unsure if circumstances will allow us to celebrate it together. As the date approaches, I take time to think about how we have been friends for 11 years, and pray that we never forget to be friends in the years to come. After what I've seen today with my parents, I include a P.S. in my prayer to keep us in love as well.
My parents' love story is bittersweet, but its joys have always triumphed over all its sorrows. It was not easy to keep it going, but they have shown us time and again that they are right for each other. They are each other's favorite friend, the one with which they enjoy sharing the day's series of events, and the one they would say goodnight to last. Their passionate devotion to each other has evolved countless times, and I'm glad to have been there through all that. That is, of course, until they start their private jokes which sends the cue for me to exit the scene. Beautiful music seems to pipe in the room, and I am confident it will never end.