My mom never gave me advice, and I am all the better for it

Note: This is a Facebook status I made during mother’s day

My mom never gave me advice, and I am all the better for it. When I was young, I remember looking at my closet and asking my mom to help me pick what dress I should wear. She refused and said that I should be the one to choose. I resented her for it because she was making my life harder. Then, I found out about my classmates who were forced into itchy dresses.

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Someday I have to write about lola’s death

When lola died, I couldn’t even write a Facebook post. I posted a photo of her, and I don’t know what status I placed with it. I don’t know if I even wrote “I’ll miss you.” It was like I couldn’t write anything that was an acknowledgement of what happened.

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Painting an Old Woman

Note: This was an assignment for our non-fiction class. We had to make a profile of a person, and I decided to interview my lola.

My lola sat on her narra bed as I fished for my small notebook from my messy handbag. She was dressed in a flowy duster dyed in immaculate blue. Her face was lined with eighty-five years of creases and sprinkled with tiny dark specks that looked like Jackson Pollock splatters if he used tilamsk ng mantika. All of those markings were mere cobwebs–concealing, yet never fully erasing her refined beauty.

On the wall behind her bed hung a painting of an old woman whose back was turned from us, looking far into the wavy horizon of cobalt blue and deep sea green. The painting is entitled “Nagmumuni-muni is Inang“. My lola beams as she tells me that this painting was made for her by a famous painter named Edgar “Egai” Talusan Fernandez.

When I was younger I thought lola posed for this painting because the painting looked like her. The woman’s face could not be seen in the painting, but even so, I still thought she looked like lola because the painting completely captured lola’s aura. It turns out that this was painted when lola was still twenty years old. The painter was able to accurately predict what lola would wear, feel, and look like in her old age.

Lola says “Siguro nung pinipinta ito in Egai, iniisip niya na ganito ako pag tanda ko.” My Tita Delit does not like the painting, she thinks that it is sad. Lola says that “pagmumuni-muni” does not necessarily mean sad, it can mean that one is contemplating. “Depende talaga kung paano mo tignan ang isang bagay. Interpretasyon niya un, pero sa akin, hindi malungkot ang pininta ni Egai.

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A Childhood in the Philippines: Eating Mangoes

My cousins and I loved climbing mango trees in our grandmother’s resthouse in the province. There were indian mangoes, pico mangoes and carabao mangoes. The adults would bring platitos of bagoong alimasag, barrio fiesta bagoong, or salt. Each person would pick which sansawan they liked the best. For my cousins and I, dipping the mangoes in a bowl of toyo was our thing.

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My Wound is Bigger than Yours, Belat

My cousins and I would sit around the veranda—some on wooden chairs, some on rocking chairs, and some on chairs with cushion seats. We would tell each other stories, talking well into the night as our parents slept through our giggles. One time we talked about our biggest wounds. It was like a competition on who had the worst wound of all time.

A teacher once told me that if you looked at someone’s legs you’ll know if that person had a happy childhood. The more peklats the person has, the happier that person’s childhood must have been. Scars were once wounds, and wounds meant you fell over, and this speaks of a past of rough play, of running around, of adventure.

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