Friday, January 05, 2007

First Morning in Ilocos
2nd of December, 2006

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Impromptu- recalling something from a month ago.
Previous Post: The Town of Santa

I slept relatively well.

I was given the western bedroom in the upper level of my Grandparents' place.

Considering that my Grandmother's wake and viewing is downstairs in the living room (local custom)- and considering that the room I had faces the busy Marcos Highway* - I slept pretty well.

I awoke to find my Tito Boy (Luis Jr.) had arrived the night before, along with his two other sons, John Paul and James.

We chatted and talked about what had transpired in our lives over the near decade we hadn't seen each other in front of breakfast and morning coffee.

Slowly, it was beginning to feel just like all the other Ilocos trips I had done in the past.

As the town woke up, friends and relatives from both sides of the Bueno, Bello, Rubio, Cardenas, Goze, and Manzano Clan started coming again to pay their respects and keep vigil.

Also came the others:

Second Uncles and Aunts...
Third Uncles and Aunts...
Further distant relatives and close friends and acquaintances...
Neighbours and members of the community touched by my Grandmother's kind heart all came in a steady flow of humanity...

All this while, I would be introduced as "the youngest son of the ONLY daughter - who migrated to Canada a decade ago- of the departed Antonina ('Ninay')"

"Where's your mother...?" they would usually ask me.

"Unfortunately," I would reply "she wouldn't be able to make it because of the difficulty of obtaining a ticket at this time of the year."

"But you're here!" they would say, "How come you made it?!"

"Yes, but I am here for a vacation I had planned for six months ago." I would say.

I would continue, "Before leaving for here (the Philippines) my Mom always reminded me to visit Lola because Lola doesn't have much time left. 'You have to see her' she would say. And so here I am, seeing my Lola. Unfortunately, I am seeing her off. She died within 14 hours of my arrival."

"14 hours! So you did see her!" they would conclude (incorrectly).

"No. I was unfortunately, still in Bulacan at the time."

"Ahhh", they would remark "providence still is kind for letting a son of the only daughter of the dearly departed Lola Ninay to see her off."

I repeated this line of conversation many times during the morning, and I would repeat it many times over well into the funeral.

I must confess, it became a little well rehearsed. Despite this however, I never got tired of saying it - dutibound isn't the word but it's the first word that comes to mind. I was doing it for Lola, for my Mom, and of course for myself.

Playing stand-in for my Mom in this most solemn occasion gave me a very rare glimpse of how truly loved and respected my grandparents were in their community.

No matter who the guest, whether a relative or not, whether they knew my grandparents very well or just by reputation, whether they were from my Lolo Luis' side or my Lola Ninay's side, they all held them in very high esteem.

(My Mom did try to secure a ticket. But with only a few days notice, it was next to impossible for her to arrive on time. The funeral could have been delayed, but her brothers all made the decision that it was for the better to go on with the original set date.)

After lunch, I went with Tito Boy with two of his sons to Vigan - Capital City of the province of Ilocos Sur.

* = I actually don't know if anyone else calls it Marcos Highway. The locals certainly call it that and it certainly was built during the Marcos Era... but it's hard to memorize names of places and infrastructures in this country; things get renamed every regime change.

Related Flickr Photos

Next Post: Vigan in the Afternoon


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