Here they come

by Evans Yonson

My children are all grown-up now. Everybody has graduated from the university. BB is working as an accountant at the City Hall. Dong is a bank accountant now. Nena is a primary school professor. Jorge is a chemical engineer. Julia is a public university professor. I am 60 years old now and Ben does not want us to retire yet. We have given up our shop long time ago. We sew clothes at home and still the customers come and have their clothes done by us. I am called Papang by my 15 grandchildren, who will be running here and there any moment now. Ben is their Mamang. Jorge has not gotten married yet and he is still lives with us. I think he is gay. I wouldn’t mind if he is because he has to live his life according to his own terms. At 35, when someone is still single, people will start to doubt but I believe in my children’s decisions. My children agreed to give me a birthday party today. It’s Thursday today and some friends have dropped by with their gifts for me. Tomorrow will be the first Friday of March, instead of hearing today I might as well go tomorrow. BB and Tereso have ordered a lechon for my special day. Dong and Bern (his wife) baked three layers of yellow sponge cake. Nena and Joe (her husband) brought beer, whiskey, rum and soda. Julia and Boy (her husband) are bringing pasta, adobong baboy at manok[1]pancit[2], and lumpiang Shanghai[3].

I live by myself now. Terry died eight years ago. I am glad and sad that he died at an early age of 54. I am sad because our grandchildren will grow up not knowing how great their grandfather was. I am sad because I will grow old alone. I am sad because I have been sleeping alone in our bed. I am glad because I have been suffering a lot, psychologically and physically. I am glad because I can move freely now because of fear of reproach. He has not lived with us for several years. He only comes once a month. He has moved to live with another woman. My children and I have turned blind to all his misdemeanors as a husband and as a father. He used to live with the woman in another city. But a couple of years before he passed, he asked the woman to transfer to our city. This move hurt my children and me. They were seen everywhere in the city. Of my five children, it is Evans that has been affected a lot. My children have gone on to other places. Bobong and Lolot have gotten married. Evans and Vya are in Manila. They call me almost everday. I am 60 years old today. Alone and very lonely. The radio is on and I am listening to a political debate. We will be voting for a new president in nine days. I think I will vote for the actor. Joseph Estrada seems to be a sincere and honest politician. If the USA had Ronal Reagan, why can’t the Philippines have its own version too? It is very tranquil right now at home. Gone are days when our home used to be the playground of my four boys and the castle of my Princess Vya. But my grandchildren will be here soon with their mothers.

I live by myself now. It’s been awhile that I have been here in Manila. I am still single. Manoy has three sons. He has stopped working abroad because he wants to be with his family. He has his own restaurant. Diko has three daughters. He is a ship officer now. He boasts of having seen the whole world for free. He has floated the seven seas and has been to all the major seaports in the world. Jojoy is married and lives with his wife, Rio, in Bukidnon. He works in their own farm of gamefowls and she works as a university Economics professor. Vya is separated from her first husband. She is an entrepreneur and a Special Education professor. She teaches Mathematics for the mentally-challenged children of our city. All my sisters-in-law are sweet and caring. My nephews (Niño, Dustin, and James) are into basketball and football. They are all good players. My nieces (Lydia, Alexis, and Ariane) are the homebody type of young women. I have a grandson by my eldest niece, his name is Neo.

Our Christmases were spent with Nanay because Tatay was always in war against the Muslim insurgents of the Mindanao Island. I remember when she bought a tape recorder. We recorded our messages for Tatay and wished him a merry Christmas. After a month, we heard his responses as she played the tapes he sent us. We would prepare our own Christmas tree. We exchanged fancy gifts that she bought for us. She prepared our dinner every year. She always cooked Chinese sweet ham and baked a cake for several years. On New Year’s Eve, she led the thanksgiving prayers and the rest of us knelt before the altar in her room. She was religious; she said the rosary and heard mass everyday. She was very silent and never spoke of bad things against our neighbors or her friends. She rarely laughed and smiled. But when she laughed it would mean that she was really happy.

(to be continued)
[1] A dish of pork/chicken sautéed with soy sauce, coconut vinegar, ginger, garlic, and black pepper.[2] A dish of Chinese origin. Sautéed pork, chicken, and shrimps with noodles.[3]A dish of Chinese origin. Spring roll with sautéed meat.