Stories about Family
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!
At twelve midnight, our phone would ring. It would be Daddy calling us via long distance. The three of us would take turns talking to him. Each with a hurried greeting. We try to say as much as we can while keeping it brief. Long distance phone calls cost a lot at that time. To make up for the short conversation, we would send Daddy a greeting card with long letters written on yellow pad. These letters have to be posted a month before to make sure it reaches Daddy on time for Christmas day.
Twenty-four streets named after the 24 scouts who died when their plane crashed on their way to the 11th World Scout Jamboree in Marathon, Greece, in 1963.
My grandparents used to tell me that there would have been a Scout Dionisio Street, but my Tito Neri was not allowed to go. My grandmother had insisted he stay and he was very unhappy about it.
When Elias met Charing, he was already old—in his 30s! (I never thought being in your 30s was old.) But clearly, Charing, who lived on books and worldly stories, was enchanted by this man’s real life adventures. She did not want to marry an entitled mestizo cousin. She did not care about consolidating wealth. She wanted to be with the landless merchant. And so they devised their escape.
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.
All through his life as husband and father, Angkong did not tell Awa to be “less smarter” or “less fussy about others.” Instead, he let Awa be, and while she was busy in the front part of the house, Angkong manned the kitchen and prepared meals for his wife and their ten children.
For most people, life with their parents can be long-running films, and that's the case between me and Mommy. With Dad, however, it's mostly snapshots, interspersed with a short video clip here and there. If the story jumps back and forth across three decades, it's because the photos are few and far between, and each of them carries volumes.
My story with them starts here; if the smiles on their faces hint that they're up to something, it's because they were, and that it was a secret.
Our origins couldn’t have a more of a surprising twist, beginning with this tale of how we got our last name. This might just be barrio folklore, but it is one I’d like to believe and am choosing to pass on to my children.
This is what Papa’s Ateneo students knew about his ink: Sir Joey had trekked to the furthest, deepest corners of the Philippines, seeking out each elusive ethnic group to learn their secret techniques and their secret ways and their secret music. Lo, they were astonished with his own mastery and technique, and so bestowed their own secret symbol and colors upon his flesh to mark him as one of theirs. These symbols were said to cover his entire body: from his chest, to his back, to the tops of his thighs and his shins.