Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pa's Story

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to bring Pa and Ma to the shrine of the Infant of Prague, which has always been my favorite place, an airy place full of greenery overlooking the city. The place has a personal significance to me because it was here where, when Sean was still a toddler, and I was oftentimes left without a house help at home, I would go up here with Sean to light candles. Candles, I know, have their religious significance--but for me, at that time, a candle was not only the light of my own darkness, it was also the balm to my frayed nerves. The simple act of lighting candles and watching them melt seemed to melt away all my troubles (until I go back to the house again)!
It was this secret pleasure that I wanted to share with Ma and Pa. We spent the Saturday afternoon strolling about, doing nothing, staring at the greenery. Pa, as usual, was his grumpy self. Shortly after we arrived, I asked if he was tired. "Ngano gina-treat ko nimo parang bata? Bag-o pa ko naabot diri (Why are you treating me like a child? I just arrived here)," he replied. We went to an adjoining property, where I pointed to him the coal dome of the coal-fired power plant near the sea. "That is Binugao, Pa," I said, because Binugao held a special place for my Pa. The place always figured in his stories about his arrival in Mindanao. But he said,  "Ambot, kung motuo ba ko nimo (I don't know if I should believe you)."
I told sister, who was left at home, we should just be patient with Pa because of what he endured since he was nine years old. Sister replied, "Kay imo jud diay nang gisukitsukit (So, you really dug it up?!)" and I felt I was stealing Pa's history, as if Pa's story is not my own story; and Pa's story is not our story. As if it was not a story about Mambusao, as if it was not a story about Capiz, as if it was not a story about Davao, as if it was not a story about Binugao, as if it was not a story about B'la, as if it was not a story about Upper B'la. As if it was not a story of our people, as if it was not a story of our country.

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