A grand beginning

by Evans Yonson

(Note: This is it! The last part of a series that started several weeks ago. Thank you very much for following this series. Next week, I will be writing about my travels within Spain.)

It’s 2008 now. Many things have happened since then. I have moved to Manila to begin my graduate studies and my work with the Central Office of the Department of Labor and Employment. Tatay left a strong legacy that the Labor Secretary invited me to work with them in Manila. I became the National Information Officer for one of the Department’s offices. I started to teach communication subjects like media management, film scriptwriting, and development communication in one of the universities in Manila as a part-time professor. I have had two serious relationships but both had to end because I was leaving for New York and Spain then. I rented my own apartment with two rooms, a big salon and a spacious kitchen. Nanay visited me thrice in Manila and the first time she came, she cried when she saw my apartment and the things I have done and acquired after many years of living in the big city. I have been to almost all major cities in the country.

After that I started traveling around South-East Asia with Nanay, Vya, Lydia and Nino. My nephews and nieces are grown-up now. We have been to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Mainland China, Hongkong, Singapore. I have always visited Cagayan de Oro four times a year since 1993 until the end of 2004. I left the Philippines for Spain in 2004. In Spain, I met Francisco. We were so in love that we nearly got married in 2005 but it did not materialize because I was afraid of the responsibilities that came with marriage. Besides Francisco and I both snored while sleeping. I am back in the Philippines now, in Cagayan de Oro. I am teaching at Xavier University and I am waiting for the semester to be over because I am going back to Spain to begin my doctoral studies. Papang would have been 100 years old this year.  Nanay BB would have been 70 in May. Mamang Ben died a week before my birthday. Many things happened this year like I learned how to really swim and have gone back to my favorite hobby, photography. I rediscovered my city and my province by traveling around and taking photographs no end.
BB is long gone now. I pitied her because she was suffering from diabetes for several years. I just turned 96, she 66 and Evans is 36. She should not have this illness because nobody in our family is diabetic. She was young and she should have enjoyed life a little longer. She was all alone for 14 years in that home of hers. I saw her true happiness whenever her children and grandchildren come and visit her. She came to visit Ben and me everyday and she brought us food. We talked about many things except her illness. I never argued with my children because they seem to be reasonable all the time. They spoke with a degree of certainty. BB is the most authoritative of my children. She took it from me that air of authority. When she began talking her siblings would listen to her intently and obediently. She was a very caring person and she carefully planned everything. I am sad that she is gone now. Children should outlive their parents. Parents should go before their children.

I am very sick now. I retired from work when I turned 60. I have turned blind and I had my eyes operated on. After so many years of wearing eyeglasses, I have a perfect vision. I had a minor heart attack that left half of my body paralyzed. I have undergone a major physical therapy. I have all my documents ready. I don’t want to bother my children of my sickness. They should be worrying about themselves. Just hearing their good news makes me happy no end. I love it when Lolot calls me from anywhere in this world. I love it when Evans calls me and invites me to see him in Manila. I have been out of the country many times because Evans wants to travel with me abroad. I never thought that I would use my passport in this lifetime. Jojoy and Rio are in Australia. Vya is back home now caring for me. Bobong will be here anytime soon. It has been four years that I have been going to the hospital on a weekly basis for my dialysis. I am running out of money now. Evans was here a week ago. I told him that should anything happen to me after my birthday, they should not try to revive me anymore.

I went home in April 2004 for the Easter holidays. I stayed for two weeks with Nanay. We went to the beach almost everyday. Nanay was really weak. She asked me to sleep beside her every night because she felt very cold. We had to close the windows at night in the middle of summer in that wooden home of more than 30 years old. We went to our farm and stayed there for three days. Nanay bought this farmland with her retirement money. She said it was her retirement gift to her children. She supervised the planting of mango and other fruit-bearing trees in this farm. We decided to name the farm, the Garden of Olive. On the day of my return flight to Manila, she stopped me by the stairs and told me not to worry about her anymore because she is going anyway. She wished that she would not be revived anymore and she handed me her diaries. Twenty-two days after her birthday, she died. On the day of her interment, I sang her and Tatay Tereso’s favorite Elvis Presley song:

When no one else can understand me,

When everything I do is wrong,

You give me hope and consolation.

You give me strength to carry on.
And you’re always there to lend a hand,

In everything I do.

That’s the wonder,

The wonder of you.
And when you smile the world is brighter.

You touch my hand and I’m a king.

Your kiss to me is worth a fortune.

Your love for me is everything.
I’ll guess I’ll never know the reason why

You love me like you do.

That’s the wonder,

The wonder of you.
I left the Philippines for Spain the first time in 2004. Madrid was a new experience for me. I lived in a dormitory for foreign students. I was awarded a study grant by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take Masters in International Cooperation at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Just weeks after I arrived in the Spanish capital, I received news that Papang died and left me several shoeboxes. My sister, Vya, kept the boxes for me. I only saw and opened those in 2007 when I went home. Papang left me his whole life. His stories are so entertaining at the same time endearing. He talked about his childhood, his life as a tailor, his fatherhood, his grandchildren, and his family. I read Papang’s diaries along side with Nanay’s diaries and mine.

I am still writing my diary up to this day. I wonder what my family is doing right now. How is Julia doing in New York now? How are things going with Jojoy and Rio in Australia? How is the restaurant business of Bobong? Where is Lolot now? How is Lydia doing and her child, Neo now? Where are my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren? Are they brilliant? Are they lazy? Are they happy? Where are my nephews, nieces, and cousins? Who is cooking now? Who is learning how to swim now? Who are pursuing their university studies now? Who is writing his story now? Who will describe and write about the happy and sad memories of my family? Who is continuing the tradition that I started a long time ago?

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