Sketch of My Life
I really hate to scrutinize old or antique stuffs at home. But, suddenly, my two feet neared me to that and my two bare hands opened it slowly.
As what was expected, it was full of pictures and other memorabilias. Two old photo albums, one old picture frame, my scrapbook, old clothes, rosaries, images, and all. I can still vividly recognize that the old picture frame is mine. It was made up of old newspaper and painted with reddish violet varnish. It was my project in my Arts subject way back seven years ago. Going back to the things inside the aparador, almost everything was unfamiliar to my eyes. I was blank-minded where those memorabilias and all came from until I asked my mother. Those images and other stuffs were from my grandparents. Right after, she told me everything about it; my mind boggled and became curious about my origin, my ancestry…
According to my mother, she could not clearly recall the names of her great grandparents and ancestors. I felt sad after hearing those words. It was exactly the opposite of what I wanted my mother to utter. However, fortunately, my father’s and her grandparents are still stored in her memory. What I did was to ask her to tell me everything she is able to remember.
Tracing my roots, I found out who are my great grandparents. Alas, I was not able to see even a picture of them. And now, here is my story…
An only child, I was born on August 10, 1988 at Salvador Villa Hospital in Caloocan City to Josefina Peña and Luis Santos, both natives of the city of Malabon. My mother gave birth to me six hours past midnight through a caesarian operation. In the 30th of November of the same year, I was made a child of God and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
My mother, Josefina Peña, is the eldest daughter being the second of the seven children of Natividad Trinidad and Ernesto Peña. She finished her secondary at Jose Rizal High School and proceeded to Polytechnic University of the Philippines (P.U.P.) to pursue her college; however, she was not able to finish it due to rallies of activists and chaotic happenings in Manila. Instead of doing nothing, she labored in a factory of cigarette in Makati for eight long years.
Often called as “Nati,” her mother was the second of the three offspring of Anselmo Trinidad, who had a Kapampangan blood and worked as a caretaker of a fish pond when Malabon was still called as Tambobong, and Justina Agustin, whose business was weavery and who departed this life because of goiter. Nati did not finish elementary because of penury. Just like her eldest daughter, she worked in a tobacco manufacturer. She earned a living at an early age by making balloons. Due to kidney trouble, she breathed her last.
Meanwhile, Erning, my mother’s father, was the eldest son among his five siblings. Also, he was not able to finish elementary. To have a source of revenue, he worked as a matansero and a driver who delivered banye-banyera of fish to the market. His parents were Gregorio Peña, a school teacher in Malabon and died at the age of 89, and Cristina Ignacio, a resident of Navotas and labored as a laundrywoman in an American depot. Five years ago, he passed away due to emphysema.
Nati and Erning’s love story was quite synonymous with what the soap operas in television have shown, though cliché-ish. My grandfather’s parents were against Nati because they wanted Erning not to marry a girl coming from a poor family; nevertheless, their bonds were not broken by the interference of my great grandparents in their affair. But everything seemed so hard to my grandmother because, although she was getting along with her parents-in-law, she lived as though she did not exist to my great grandparents. At the end, their love surpassed every obstacle along their way. It only proves that love knows no limit and no boundaries and they would do anything for love . Their love gave birth to seven offspring. Though they were dumped in the mud of poverty, they still managed to earn a living for their family.
Meanwhile, my father, Luis Santos, was the only product of the couple Severina Cristobal, who was a cigarette maker in Makati and died due to a heart disease eight years ago, and Luciano Santos, who was also a tabakero and deceased because of stroke. At the age of 6, my father and his mother were left by his father when he passed away making him stand in his own two feet. He worked as a hose boy distributing water to households in the vicinity just to help her mother in earning money. He persevered a lot just to educate himself. Self-supported, he finished his college degree in Technological Institute of the Philippines (T.I.P.) and is now working as a marine engineer employed in a shipping company in Manila.
Pet named as “Binay,” my grandmother was the oldest among the four children of Macaria Rivera, a plain housewife, and Roman Cristobal, a jeepney driver. Both were hailed from Pinaglabanan, San Juan. Binay had lived in a simple life since she saw the first light. In the same way, she raised her only son.
On the other hand, her husband, Luciano, was the eldest among his three siblings. He was born to Generosa dela Cruz, a housewife, too, and died because of heart attack, and Jose Santos, a carpenter. His parents were locals of Malabon.
Going back to my parents, I queried my mom if they had a unique and extraordinary love story. And she said in reply, “We had but not an against-all-odds story, I guess…” Actually, my grandmother courted my mom and not my dad. It sounds funny but it is true. My father was very sly and torpe. He wanted to court my mother when he already had a stable job. So my Lola Binay did the first step. In addition, my lola had my mother in the top of her list because she was a typical housewife and monogamous. She would not like his only son to marry a polygamous woman like the spouses of my dad’s cousins. After several weeks, my father approached my mother and tried to court her when he had a job already. When he got home from abroad, he asked my mom to get marry. When they underwent the sacrament of matrimony, they decided to rent an apartment. After about eight years of saving money, they were able to buy a lot and built a house and they left the old house for the better.
Afterwards, I diverted my attention to my own photo album when I was still a toddler until I evolved into a teenager. It is comprised with my images with my parents in Luneta Park, Malabon and Manila Zoo, McDonald’s and a lot more. But the only photograph that glued my eyes at it was when I was with my father riding a kalesa. It was one of my happiest and memorable moments with my father. I was extremely astounded by the horse and its kalesa. Riding on it completed my day. I went home with a smile on my face though quite exhausted that day. Moreover, the day with animals in Manila Zoo was also an unforgettable experience for me. I had a lot of fun with the giraffes, elephant, ostrich, and turtles. As a child, I was totally amazed with them. Indeed, it was a great, great adventure.
But behind those happy memories, according to Freud, sad and vindictive events in one’s life are stored in the subconscious mind. And I can prove it true. I was little then, about 6 years old. My father spanked and wept me a little when I threw a towel in his face. A wood stick and a broom stick left their reddish marks in my body. I hated my father for that. I just did a childish act and that’s what I got. This is one of the worst memories in my life that I won’t be able to forget even in the future.
My childhood is a helluva rollercoaster ride. I learned many things. I had good thoughts with my parents and my lola. I experienced the real sense of childhood in the loving arms of my parents. And because of that, I have been trying to return all this love to them by giving the so-called consuelo, my achievements…
Attaining something makes my spirit high; nonetheless, achievements are not the only thing that will fulfill my life and, perhaps, others’, too.
When I took out of the aparador the photo albums, I saw my unfinished scrapbook. I did it two months ago. I was looking for it because I am not yet done with the remarks and the captions. But because of my hectic college 1ife, I forgot it and misplaced it until I found it inside the cabinet.
My scrapbook envelops my high school life. And it was when I had feats. I graduated as the class valedictorian when I was in elementary in a non-sectarian school in Malabon. After concluding elementary, my father decided, for my betterment, to transfer me into a well-known, Catholic, and, maybe, the best school in our city in terms of education and high-tech facilities.
It served as an avenue for me to be exposed to the world outside our city. Though a new student, I was still able to join school’s curricular and extracurricular activities like quiz bees, intramurals, and play presentations. When I stepped into my sophomore year, I started to join inter-school tilts like MTAP Math Challenge, DLSU Chemistry and other academic competitions. Despite the shortcomings and hardships I encountered during my secondary school years, I managed to balance successfully my academic and non-academic life. All the things that I had during the contests were kept in a safe place. I.D.’s, letters, scripts, news letter, and all are posted in my not-so-good scrapbook.
To be one of the UPCAT passers, regardless of the degree program, is one of the best achievements I’ve ever had. I was completely glad and blissful when I knew the UPCAT results. My emotions then were uncontrollable unlike when I was informed that I also passed the other prestigious universities in the country.
But wait! Achievements don’t end there. Friends are considered as one of my supreme feats a person can ever have. It was only in my high school years when the word “bonding” entered my vocabulary. I had a lot of real and reel colleagues. One of them also studies in UP so we really have a great time together whether during peaks or pitfalls.
Through my friends, I can see myself as a person. They reflect who I am. Some of those who know me by name have this first impression that I am smart. I want them to stop bragging about the stuff. I want them to see who I am inside and outside.
Easily, I’m flabbergasted with people who can exactly define life and reality. Indeed, I hate to fizzle out; that’s why I do my level best not to be plunked into the sludge of pitfalls. I’m not yet in the right time to assert that I’m fledged in any discipline. I’ve got a rocky long road to take. If ever there are disputes between my pals and me, I seldom conciliate just for the sake of what they say “companionship.” I can be a loner, an island as what others claim. And I don’t want to converse with bunkums because, definitely, I won’t learn anything from them. I like talking. In fact, at times, I babble, babble, and babble… Rarely, I’m tagged as a recluse. Sad to say, but I have some (take note: just some!) dabs of insecurity with myself; however, now, I’m trying to do something about it to boost my confidence and tell the populace what I’ve got. Another thing I abhor the most are the passé stuffs. They don’t belong in this rapidly changing world. Slippery people don’t have place in my world. Moreover, I’m supah dupah sly, clandestine or whatever you want to call it. But when it comes to my real friends, I vent. An exceptional happy-go-lucky, I love emulating different personalities in fields of journalism and music. I typify any other ordinary dreamer out there. And if dreams can just be converted into money, I guess I’m the richest individual in the world surpassing Rowling and Gates. Gosh! Well, that’s just a figment of my wildest imagination. On one hand, I can completely demean you from head to foot if and only if you’re my foe. On the other hand, I can be grateful and appreciative for everything you’ve done for me and to me.
I’ve confronted my past… I’ve confronted my life… I’ve confronted myself… How about you? Have you done the same thing to yourself?