self-portrait

self-portrait

the days are much longer here. we wake up early. we sleep early and into the night. we dream wild dreams that feel too real but ought not to be. or else. or at least that is the summary of what occurs therein. it’s good to hear mom’s boisterous laugh. it breaks to hear her cry for her mother. my grandmother. in my dreams i wonder why i do not see her. mom talks about me so much – too much. but such is the homecoming, such is the elongated time of being without – longing for blood connection and finally coming to a common time and place – not for preferred season.

the children laugh and play and quarrel and let chocolate infiltrate their heart strings. they think that they do not know – but they do. running through lola’s house in and out of rooms they cannot call their own but most certainly belong to them more than anyone in our lineage. legacy. my mother wonders what will become of them: the children who wake up late and do not answer when they are called to the table. who make the food and their elders wait. who are the rulers of lola’s house. her sisters, too, wonder. they all reminisce on their black and white upbringings – on their plentiful table of siblings and perfect attendance. of the firewood that burned uncle ping’s shorts. when mom hadn’t gotten to washing his butt right on away. on “kung hindi mo gustong kumain, alis ka dyan sa la mesa.” i wonder what goes through my young cousins’ ears as they hear their aunties on repeat. i imagine them imagining these times of kerosene lamps and days when lola cion was still breastfeeding. stories from their aunties turn into mythical tales of hero-like characters who sound quite amazing (don’t get them wrong) but who lived in times and circumstances unfathomable to the eat bulaga-washed mind.

dreamy. but unrelatable.

trying to find your face is like getting in line for the most awaited ride at the annual carnival – only to be cut off by time as you reach the very front. you’ll have to wait til next year – if there is a next year.

instead i am greeted by photos from las year’s vacation is boracay – a quite extraordinary video clip of lola miriam being carried on her wheelchair by four men (who are probably my uncles in some way) from the boat to shore. water is splashing and la reina looks into the sun with all that she has every hoped for at her side at that very moment – husband as cameraman to bear witness of her glorious and royal ride. she is walking on water.

and although the photos of universal studios and stories of las vegas – of uncle ian’s two-story house (air-conditioned) and american wife make me chuckle, i am still only looking for just one face and one story: lola felicia.

mfeb23

photo credit: larry a. fernandez

this is an image i fell upon while doing research in my mother’s ancestral home. it is the lava flow from an eruption by mayon volcano in albay, bicol, philippines – in which the image of the blessed virgin mary appeared to warn villagers of the forthcoming disaster.

some filipinos believe that the power of the babaylan is reincarnated in the blessed virgin mary.

but this is the first time i am hearing of this.

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