Stories about Beliefs
My dad got behind the wheel and as we drove off, he looked up at the sky and pointed to something in the distance and said, "Look! I think that's Santa Claus! That looks like his sleigh and reindeer! Can you see it?"
I strained my neck to look through the rearview window. I squealed and begged my dad to drive faster so we could catch up to Santa. I saw a flying object and a trail of fumes. It was definitely him!
Perhaps the Señor knew everyone’s secrets. My uncles said that sometimes, when the moment came to carry the Señor from the chapel to the carriage, the figure wouldn’t budge. The men of my family tend to be rather large, and one of them could easily carry the Señor by himself. But sometimes, even with three or four of them, the Señor refused to be carried. The figure seemed heavier. They said maybe one of them had sinned, and so they would call a different group of menfolk to lift the Señor.
My mom wanted me to be a priest. I have always known my mom as a religious person. She was the church-going type and she would drag me there when I didn't want to go. I think she came from a generation that was deeply religious. Her siblings were regular church-goers as well. I remember regular rosary sessions with them when I was growing up.
In the 1940s, my Abuelito, Francisco Bayot Zaldarriaga, went to New York. He was a journalist representing the Philippines.
My Abuelito was a very Spanish-looking dude who was about 6'2" with blue eyes and owned his own little paper.
In those days, racism was in full force.
I could only imagine how confused she was. Here was a pleasant young man, a handsome mestizo, her best friend’s brother no less, and he wanted to marry her. But she wanted to devote her life to the Lord. What was a young woman of the 1950s supposed to do?
Maybe because I grew up attending many funerals in Iligan, I've developed a rather strange fascination with how people cope with the death of a loved one. Eventually, one masters the do's and don'ts of attending funerals. In doing so, I have realized that while the pain and grief over the loss of someone close is natural, a certain set of rituals, stories, and superstitions can help salve the wounds of those who have been left behind. Even if it involves removing the dead's shoes.
“Every Pista Minatay, our dearly departed come back to visit us, the living. It is during Tigkalalag, All Souls’ Day, that the spirits of our ancestors come back and roam the earth,” she said, her hands busy with the spatula, stirring the rice constantly.