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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Of Bicycles, Friendships and Fort Stotsenburg

Anybody who loves history would know that Clark Airbase used to be called Fort Stotsenburg. Situated three miles west of Angeles City and eighty kilometers north of Manila, it was not just the main base for the US Cavalry in the Philippines but a place of opportunity not only for Kapampangans but for people who  wanted to earn a living in other parts of the country even then.

We often heard stories from old people that life before was very hard. Money was scarce and that kids were  encouraged to help their families financially. Children’s rights advocates were unheard then, so is child labor. It was the time before Pearl Harbor.

In my dad’s family, two of my uncles enlisted in the Military. An aunt worked for the Bases’ laundrymat and my dad worked at a bicycle shop. He also became a houseboy to some military families.  Our family hails from Lubao which is the last town of Pampanga, just a few kilometers away from Bataan and Olongapo.

My dad ‘s family was dirt poor. He was orphaned at an early age and grew up without  a father.Though he was a product of a third marriage and had three siblings,  he also had half brothers and sisters which really did not matter even then. Grandma tried all sorts of jobs, so she can feed her kids. Dad once told me that they would have cooked rice and salt for their meals. He and his is youngest brother  Pinong, whom he was really fond of,  would add some water on the cooked rice,  so it would have some taste. These were days when they were lucky. Some days were not. And my grandma could not help but shed a tear, while they were gathered together at the dinner table. That was enough for my aunt Afric and my dad ,who was the second eldest in his brood, to leave Lubao,  and try his luck at Fort Stotsenburg. And true enough he did.

At the bicycle shop, dad’s boss was an American, thus he learned his English firsthand. Day by day, my dad did not only  earn a living, he also earned a teacher and a friend. The American would teach him the basics  of  his work and my dad would follow. Day by day, he learned to forget how lonely it was to leave his family in Lubao so they could eat regular meals, choosing not to be a burden instead. My aunt Naty who was the youngest, once said that he once took her and uncle Pinong to the bicycle shop as a treat. He bought them bubblegum which were too big  for their small mouths to chew, that they could not even open them to speak. And my dad would laugh at them, because he knew his siblings were overwhelmed not only with  the taste of candies but of the stories that needed to be shared for the short time they were together.

When Pearl Harbor broke out, life became chaos. It became survival.  Dad was trapped in Angeles City where as his family in  Lubao evacuated. It may have been months, maybe years. Most people were not mindful of counting how long the war will last then , but how soon it would be over. My dad’s family thought he was already dead. They lost track of him. It was very painful but each of them hope, that one day they will all be together.

It turned out that  dad’s boss hid him.  Perhaps, in a way,  the American felt like a father, protective of his son and his welfare. He too, wished that both of them will survive. After a long time, when the war  was nearing  its end, and it was safe enough to come outside, my dad had to say the inevitable. He told his boss, that he need to go back to Lubao. The American, was hesitant to let him leave. He  told my dad that he may not find his family anymore, that they may have not survived. He even offered him to have a life in the US, adopt him as his son, so he can have a better life. He was so touched, not only by my dad’s sense of professionalism  but his love for his family as well.

But my dad declined.

He told him that he will always be grateful for his kindness but he will try to pick up the pieces of his life, or of what’s left in Lubao. And that he can never leave his family behind.

It was then that the American let him go. I am not  sure if he even helped my dad  assemble a bicycle so he can get to Lubao much faster. In a way, the bicycle was not just a gift,  but a bond,  a reminder of a friendship that will never be forgotten.

The trip from Angeles to Lubao was a painful one. My dad let go, not only of an opportunity but a dream that could have changed his life.  Still, he chose to be with his family, if he will be lucky enough to find them.

After passing many towns,  destroyed by the war, asking around about his family, he finally found them.  They had all survived. The emptiness that he felt so long  suddenly was replaced by happiness now that he is back. The pain of waiting was all worth it.

This story was a product of the bits and pieces of  stories, randomly told  by my mom , aunt Naty and sometimes by my  dad. Now I know why we  he  named his kids  with American names. Now I know why we grew up  watching mostly American shows, even documentaries in which I am  now thankful of.  Maybe this explains why, when my dad had a bicycle for a  gift,  took  good care of it even to his last days.

Perhaps, he remembered, how it felt to have a father and how he found a friend during the time of war.

And just maybe he remembered, his humble beginnings, at  a place once called Fort Stotsenberg.

(image credits  to wikepedia.com)

Laughter Prone Kids (And Everything in Between)

My mom often tells me that perhaps my kids and I should live in the mountains, free of neighbors except for Mother Nature who will always understand the noise my kids create everyday which she added “might be too much for the human ear to handle. ”

Every time  my mom says this, I feel like I am raising monkeys that have been trapped in the zoo for a long time and are dying to get back to the jungle. Sort of the Madagascar characters which my kids enjoy watching. Perhaps they can relate or perhaps they just simply laugh easily. Not that we do not talk about serious stuff like school, saving money and staying healthy. Nor do they get undisciplined each time they cross the line, does not do their assigned tasks or act too smart for their age. Like any ordinary family, my kids and I go through with the same struggles and triumphs. Being a single parent and having 7 minions to raise is tough work to the 7th power. One will easily lose her sanity by just thinking what meal needs to be prepared that will fit the budget and  look delectable still. Or by keeping yourself healthy while three of your kids have the flu, worst one of them is confined in the hospital. Or just by simply having the time to take a shower, comb your hair and grab a bite before you head for work. Crazy as it may sound but at times it would help if one remembers to breathe in between before  getting caught up again and overwhelmed by this daily routine.

Life itself is already crazy as it is. Stress can be easily displayed if you are burned out by a lot of things which can make you flare up by just a simple task not properly done. And the first people who takes the heat are the ones we care about. Sadly these are our families, our children, our friends. And since  kids live what they see, it would be helpful if we  can learn to channel this positively, though it may be hard at first. And learning how to laugh, even though for a short time really helps. Laughter is free, uncomplicated and never gets old. It  not just makes you look and feel young, sometimes it makes you think that this world is not as tough as it may seem.

So if you happen to hear some kids laughing like it seems there’s no more tomorrow, do not  hesitate to hear them out a second time. Perhaps you might even care to join in and eventually found out why.

Literal Mom

Manny Pacquiao’s Long Lost Relative

It was an ordinary summer afternoon. Most of the kids in our neighborhood had just finished playing hide and seek, hopscotch or monkey, monkey Annabelle (our local version of tag it). It was  5 o’clock , the sun was about to set and at  about 6 pm  most kids were expected to be home by then. This was in the 70’s where children played on the streets the minute the sun was no longer that scorchingly hot. It was the easiest and cheapest recreation at that time and we only have an hour left to enjoy our play.

My brother Xavier, who was fondly called Sonny was about 7 years older than I am. There was a time that I was like his shadow, always on tail him because our dad  only  allowed me to play as long as my brother saw to it that I do not get hurt that much. My dad was very protective of his  two daughters and I happened to be the eldest.

Perhaps my brother had  gotten bored of my clean clothes whenever I get to play. Perhaps, his definition of play was getting  muddy clothes, having bruises and smelling like a dog. Or maybe he had a sudden burst of creativity that he wanted to try it out on his little sister.

We were about to go home when he called his childhood friend, Nick, who happened to be our nephew. He whispered something that made Nick look at his uncle, asking him if that was a good idea. And since my brother had always been a charmer, (sometimes to the point of being manipulative), he was able to convince Nick of his plan. I was on our way home when my brother called me and said, “Have you ever watched a boxing match? “And  the first thing that came to mind was a man wearing boxing shorts in boxing gloves falling flat on his face while trying to get up and another man wearing white long sleeves and black pants with a butterfly tie around his neck is counting, waiting if the boxer can still get up.  I do not know why but a  knockout scene was the first thing that that came to mind.

I told my brother “yes” and he said, “Good, I have set you up for a boxing match with Ton Ton.”

I can not believe what I heard. I told my brother that I really do not know how the game works, how does one win. He then answered that it was just easy. That I just have to protect my face from getting punched. And he said it a matter of factly, like he get to be punched on his face everyday. He added that I need not to worry just as long as I follow what he told me.

Hmm. I smelled trouble.

But since I always looked up to my brother (which, I sometimes wish I didnt’ ), I went ahead and accepted the challenge.  Besides, my opponent was our nephew, Nick’s youngest brother, who was also a playmate and  played chess very well especially if I let him cheat so he could win.

The arena was at our Aunt Naty’s backyard. My brother and Nick had connived to have it staged there so that my dad will not suspect nor hear what the commotion was about. The other kids in our neighborhood had joined in to watch. Ton Ton’s face looked like that of  a monster, about to eat its prey and I felt like a lamb about to be sacrificed.

The match started. I could hear yells of all sorts, telling me what to do. I am not sure if they were cheering for me or if they’ re enjoying the set up for the match. My brother was yelling me what to do and since I can’t hear, I tried to look at him and then

Wapak!!!

I dont’ know what happened but I think I  just saw some stars and felt my left cheek hurt.

My brother yelled for a timeout.

He told me I need to learn how to protect my face. That I should learn how to fight for myself. I almost told him that in case he had forgotten, that Ton Ton is a boy and is bigger than I am. I was about to when he said, “You can beat him even though he is a boy and is bigger than you are. Just follow what I tell you.”

I gritted my teeth in silent anger and frustration. I had no time to tell him that I just saw the Big Dipper and Orion and now has a throbbing cheek because I was trying to follow what he was telling me but can not hear it.

The match continued. I think I’ve heard some kids are in favor of Ton Ton. I even heard bets and gambles in the background. What a great neighborhood we have.

Because my left cheek was still hurting, I decided that I do not want to give him the benefit of doing the same thing to its sister. I threw my tentative jabs in the air, missing him. Darn, he was quick. So  quick that I started to get dizzy. The yells and cheers were getting stronger.  I can still hear my brother yelling me what to do and then something hit my belly,  so hard that I thought I am going to throw up.

My brother yelled timeout! In anger he told Nick that they agreed on what parts of the body should be hit. Nick reasoned that it can not be avoided because that is how one plays boxing . I was looking at both of them, now tired,  and then went to look at Ton Ton. I may have imagined it but he was leering at me. The maniac looked like a leech.  I am starting to hate this game, this set up and wished I never have  listened to my brother. I wanted the game to be over and go home.

He must have seen it  because he took my by the arm, gently, perhaps because  he knew most of my  body parts were now hurting and then he whispered, “Let’s finish this game and go home. Then, unaudibly, he spelled and mouthed the words, “Hit him in the groin.”

I can’t believe what I’ve heard.

He reasoned that I can not let myself loose, because they  had  broken the rules and started to cheat. He even added, “You are not letting him cheat on you again, are you?”

And that made me angry. So angry that I made sure this last round will be mine.

The match resumed. Ton Ton was so confident that he is going to win. While he thought he was trying to wrap me around his finger with his moves and jabs pretending to hit me  to frighten me, I got the opening I was waiting for. And  then

Wapak!!! Wapak!!!

I heard laughter and yells, the loudest was from my brother. It was Nick’s turn to get angry but my brother was deaf. Ton Ton almost kneeled on the ground because of  what I did. Still he was able to get up.

“You were cheating!” ” That was foul! ” yelled Ton Ton who was still in pain.

The nerve. I preferred not to tell him how many times he cheated on me when we played checkers and hide and seek. Instead I decided to just show him the difference. So I yelled back.

“That was not cheating! ”

Wapak!!! Wapak!!!

I think Ton Ton got to see some constellations and a meteor shower. He was also touching his cheek but I decided to give him a taste of an uppercut.

Wapak!!!

I did not even give him time to blink.

“That was boxing! ”

Ton Ton was very angry. He was about to grab me when Nick said, “That’s enough you two,”
As he was trying to control spoiled sport Ton Ton,  my brother carried me and raised my arm and yelled

Winner!!!

Yells and laughter followed. I felt a different kind of high not sure if it was the combination of my smelly spectators or because I won the match.

Turned out, the bets were on me.  Really, such an awesome neighborhood  we have.

I might  just be  tempted to try boxing again

That evening, both me and my brother were grounded by my dad. And because I was innocent, I was not allowed  to go and play outside for a week. My brother on the other hand, was not allowed to watch his favorite tv shows for two weeks.

And despite the bruises and my hurting cheek, somehow, that felt so good.

(credits to sportsmemorabilia.com for the  image)

A Red Filled Life

It was February of  2004. My sister told me to have that ultrasound, worried that I might be  overdue with my pregnancy. I told her that I was not, added that full term babies age from thirty-eight to forty-six weeks. Still, she told me that a visit to my obstetrician would not hurt.

I was pregnant with my seventh kid, was a stay at home mom and whose marriage was on the rocks. My kids and I were living with my mom, a typical prodigal daughter scenario where I did not have much choice but to listen, follow and  let my siblings decide for myself, depending on them for almost everything.

My obstetrician asked me if I already have a  name for my baby. I told her ” yes, ” and the name that I had chosen was  “Summer Renee,” because she will be  born in summer time. Surprisingly she asked , “What if it turns out to be a boy?” I looked at her in the eye and then I knew, I was going to have a son.

He weighed more than seven pounds. The midwife told me he was a big baby because when she put him on the weighing scale, his baby feet extended, had touched the surface. “He had long legs,” she added as she placed him in my arms. I named  him Red Stuart. His sisters, especially the eldest one, liked the sound of it. And she was crazy with her baby brother ever since she had laid eyes on him from day one that they were inseparable, almost, until now.

He was  born at a time when I was slowly dying inside. When everything was unsure, and the future looked hopeless and bleak. What more, he had to have a piece of my attention and love which was already divided into six, myself, forgotten. Each day was filled with questions and regrets, guilt and shame. I was almost to the point of no return.

I could not remember when or how I woke up. What I did remember  was when I told  myself I have had enough. Enough of looking at walls, wishing I could go through them. Enough of dreaming big when afraid of taking even  a small step. Enough of hoping love would come back when there was almost nothing left even for myself.

I told my mom I have to work, in Manila because I knew it was my turf. That I will bring three of my kids with me, explained that two of them needed to go to a special education center.That there were more opportunities and support groups in the city compared to our place. Good thing she was a teacher because she understood. Still it was not easy when  I left  the other four, Red included, who was just then two years old.

All of a sudden, the family that I built  had been divided. I recall seeing my second eldest shed some tears when they had to say goodbye after every vacation ended. I recall, my eldest son, then on his fourth grade, confined in the hospital, without me being around. And I remember, how I would cry and comfort myself, looking at Red’s picture, smiling, as if he was asking,  ” Will I be home soon? ”

Days, months, years had passed. I lost count on the sleepless nights I had spent working to build a life.

Of braving stormy days just  to get home and  check on the kids  only to work again in the evenings. Of fighting the cold weather, just to take advantage of a holiday pay. Of thinking that one day, I will have my family back including  Red. Miraculously, we were able to hold on.

March of 2012. Now all  six kids are  in my wing, with one daughter left with my mom. Less than a year from now, all of them will be together, with my mom, perhaps included. It will be a jungle but definitely not the first time. Now, I at least get to enjoy a few hours with Red, seeing him off to school and picking him up even only after an hour. Now I know when I get home, I would not be just looking at his picture, imagining him in my arms. Now, I have learned that in order for me to look at all them clearly,  I have to find myself first. And now, I realize that despite all the pain that had gone in between, I was able turn my life around, fill it with hope, and finally tell myself, that I had done the right thing.

My life which was used to be  gray is now back to its old color, in which  it is filled  with red once more.

And for me that was enough.

(image credits to facebook.com)

The Greatest Gift

I received a text message from a colleague the other night.  The text said that she woke up and found that her right hand  was shaking, uncontrollably and asked me why. Though I am not a doctor, by experience I knew how that felt. So I told her thru text that  it was about time to visit and listen to her doctor’s advise. “And please find the time to visit the spa and have a massage. You are stressed out. All of us are.” I added.

There was a time when I was working six days a week, taking advantage of every overtime, wether mandatory or not. I know that would mean my laundry would pile up and my kids would miss me more. I even asked my mom  during those few times I visited her if I am beginning to be materialistic or too ambitious for my own good. I felt like when people look me through my eyes, they would see the peso or dollar sign in them.

“No, ” you are not being materialistic nor too ambitious for that matter. You have been a stay at home mom for a while. Now that you had started to earn your own money and learned that you can provide, you want to earn more because you know that money would go to more important things. You are just trying to catch up. ”

That somehow lessen the guilt that started to gnaw inside me for not spending much time with my kids. They were still young then. And I know when the right time comes , I will make it up to them.

I just never thought that I will be on the receiving end when that happens.

My eldest daughter , Sam, had been very busy with her  thesis lately. She had been spending her evenings for almost a whole week at her classmates’ place because their defense will be by the end of the month. She literally became a stranger to all of us, just coming over to get some clothes  and to see her siblings. She suddenly became a daily visitor to her own  home. We only get to keep in touch through  text and through Facebook.com. I bought her a Frank Sinatra compact disk which was on sale, because she happened to love the standards. I also had planned on giving all of them a treat this weekend, only for me to learn she will not be able to make it. She did thank me for the gift, and she had relayed this through text.

I have to admit, that I miss those days when my kids and I would hang out and just simply talk about anything under the sun. Now that all of them had grown up and became very busy with school, it seems the only time I get to talk  to them and have a discussion is when they ask for some extra allowance to finish certain reports, attend a seminar or a field trip requirement. Sometimes there are even shouting matches and teary explanations in between. At times, I am almost to that point of giving up, because the last thing that I wanted was to end my day on a negative note with my kids. Such negative reactions stay in one owns psyche the whole day, worst, even affects one’s sleep until it is time to go to work, only to realize it has not left you. And one tries his  best to shake it off or else, one will be all over the place.

It is very easy for us to loose ourselves, in our  relationships, in our business, in our work. We feel that we always have this ample supply of energy to give, not knowing that we are slowly depleting bit by bit. There are signs but we chose to ignore them if that would mean more money to pay for one’s bills, for your kids’ education and perhaps a long overdue vacation. And sadly, when we do find the time to reward ourselves, that energy almost left us that we just rather hit the sack and  catch up on sleeping instead.

I had been guilty on all these. The text I received the other night was followed by a similar one. Both came from hardworking  people who do not have kids yet but rarely have time for themselves. Not that they do not know their real worth, but  had too often forgotten to treat themselves. It was a light bulb moment that made me think of how I have been treating myself lately, of certain days how I would push myself to go to work because that was expected of me. Of dreading the weekend to come so I could at least sleep regularly and spend some time with myself.

In a way, we should always think of ourselves as gifts, that should be taken cared of and treasured,  wrapped or unwrapped. Our self proclaimed financial independence or our longing  to be with someone who is, may mask who we truly are, but it would help from time to time to remember to treat ourselves, kindly. It is the only way we could give back, without forgetting who we are.

Below is a video of one of my favorite songs. I just want to share it with you and hope you find time to ponder on it.

Blog Post Hop

And I hope you like it too.

(The song “The Greatest Gift ” was composed by the Academy Award Winner Henry Mancini whose compositions include, “Moon River, ” ” Two for the Road ” and “The Days of Wine and Roses.” He also composed the theme song for the movies “Rocky, ” and “The Pink Panther.” Credits also go to youtube.com for the video.)

Through The Years

I told my mom that there will be a medical mission near our place where people can have their usual laboratory tests- uric, blood sugar, urinary and what have you at a discounted rate. She immediately told me to have her registered . She added, “Take care of the registration fee and I will give it back when I get paid.”

I can not help but smile on how smart that sounded. My mom had gone back to tutoring kids. In our place, where word gets around easily, she was always referred to by other people as “the  old woman who had a reputation for teaching, ” a profession that she had always been proud of until now. It was not just her bread and butter, but her vocation,  just like motherhood.

My mom came from a dysfunctional family.  Being the eldest of 3 kids, she had learned the word responsibility at a young age. She once mentioned that there were days that she wanted to come out and play but instead  stayed indoors to look after her siblings. Good thing she loves to read. Perhaps she may have not realized it then but it was by reading where she met many friends, gone into places , and where she started building her dreams.

And that was what she did.

Every time she went to school she made sure she excelled.  Every task given to her , she gave her  110 per cent. She was  focused, driven and pro active. It did not matter if she had to cross a river just to study when she was in high school or  tutor her landlady’s kid just to pay for her rent when she was in college. She wanted to become a lawyer, an ambition that was far fetched at that time because they can not afford it , so she chose teaching instead, but  made sure, she will not just be any ordinary teacher.

She left her hometown when she married my dad. She was barely 23 years old then, perhaps even younger. She was obliged to learn a dialect she never knew and get along with people, including those that were hard to deal with. Enviousness,  perhaps runs  in every family circle, negative traits that my mom have no time for. To her, every man is basically good, and  it is his choices that makes  him what he is.

Mom has always been a source of inspiration to me and my kids

It was not surprising that my siblings and I had fared well in school. I thought then that was because  my mom taught in the same  school where we went to. When all of us had gone to other schools, even stopped schooling for a while, especially in my case, I found that it was not true. She tells us often  not to stop reading and to continue learning, be it watching informative shows or meeting people. She also  reminds us to remain humble of one’s achievements and to always look back at one’s humble beginnings.

There had been a year when my mom had been in and out of the hospital due to multiple strokes. My family  knew that she was not getting any  younger. That things were not the same as they used to  especially now that she has diabetis and osteoporosis. Year 2009 had been a bad year for all of us.We lost our eldest brother  due to a heart condition. All of us had been devastated especially my mom. All of us could not believe that my brother had gone too soon. We were worried  that she might  not be able take it all.

But my mom had never been a quitter. She had always faced life heads on. A few days after my brother’s cremation, she told one of my  daughters, that she  does not want to live in a hospital anymore.  That she is still needed especially now  that my brother left a wife and 3 sons. Besides, if she was able to move on when my dad left us ,  she can not see any reason  why she can not do that again.
And so that’s what she did but this time, she did more than that.

Mom and I enjoying a cozy afternoon with our relatives

She decided to be productive by accepting tutorials even though she was underpaid. She continued to be active in our place’s’ senior citizens group where she used to be the auditor, but now the vice president which worries me at times because that would mean more responsibility to the group, in which, she just gave me, a deaf ear. Lately, I have learned she attended birthday parties of other senior citizens’ members, even telling me that  she had worn the blouse I gave last Christmas.  She had never stopped reading that she  knows Harry Potter very well after reading all seven books. And never grew tired of knowing Dan Brown, James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell thru their novels.

Life had been kind to my mom. Financially we may not be well off, but  both mom and dad made sure my siblings and I were brought up with the things that really matter. Basic things like the times spent with each other, stories and laughter  shared, and the freedom to know and learn what life is all about. To be good in one’s  chosen field, and by paying things forward  especially to those who need it. It may not have been  much, even trivial to others, but as we go along our lives, when most  of the people who matter had gone before us, we may realize that it is not  the fancy, worldly  things,  that you long for, but the very simple ones that you want to take back,  hoping that this time it may not be too late.
My mom just turned 77  last January 20th. When I talked to her  over the phone, she said that my daughters’ classmates had read my blog and mentioned how they liked it. She added that she will find the time to read it,  now that she knows what a blog is.  And that really made me smile.

In fact, it really made my day.

Finding Your Way Home

Most of us perhaps feel that one of the most defining moments in our lives was when we braved our way to get home from school on our own. For those who were not well off to have a car and hire the services of a family driver, join the school bus even, and just simply do with the help of a guardian, household help or a kind neighbor, that time will come when one just wished things will be different, that one will be allowed to take care of himself and not continue to burden anybody else. I remembered that day when I decided to take command of such things. Too clearly, that it was one of the most told stories I had shared with my kids.

 

I went to a school where my mom taught. It was an accident prone area were most provincial busses going to Olongapo and Bataan would pass by. During the  70’s , the ratio of the accidents was one student a year but that had grown tremendously through the years. At that time my dad would not even entertain the idea of letting me or my siblings go home on our own. He may have been over protective but he did not care. Until that time when he did not have any choice, that is.

 

My mom was sent to the Division Office to attend a seminar. She asked a fellow colleague who was also an aunt and a neighbor to accompany me home. And since working mothers were good in multi tasking , my aunt went first to the market  which was close to the school before we head home. Since there were a lot of people , she left me  in a stall, told me to wait for her when she was done.

 

A few minutes had passed while waiting for my aunt. Those few minutes lasted for half an hour, then for an hour. I was already bored and worried because it  started to get dusk. The kind lady who was the stall owner happened to be my dad’s relative as well. She told me that she will bring me home because it seemed, my aunt had forgotten me.

 

I felt terrible as one feels rejection easily when you are left out, be it accidentally, worst intentionally. You feel helpless, alone and afraid. And that feeling stays with you for a long time.  Later I learned that my aunt was preoccupied and was in a hurry to get home because one of her kids were sick. I had no choice but to  understand.

 

I told myself then, I will not let that happen again. Strange enough, it did but this time I finally had the guts to decide for myself.

 

When my mom had a miscarriage and filed for a leave, my dad had no choice to trust my mom’s colleagues to see me off, each time I leave and head home from school. I think that lasted for almost a month, until I cannot take it any longer. One day, I decided to take my own route, went home early, and told my dad what I have done.

 

“Why did you do it?” “What had gotten in that stubborn mind of yours again? Have you not thought that something might have happened to you?” Concern was written on my dad’s face. I almost regretted what I have done but I have to tell him the reason why.

 

I told him I do not want to be accompanied when I leave for school anymore. That I want to be with other kids when they walk their way home  That I do not want to be left out again after relying someone will be there for me, only to learn that I am alone afterwards.

 

He became quiet. Trying to understand what I said. Thinking if it was about time for me to take that giant step. Finally he said, “Starting tomorrow, you can go home on your own but  I still cannot trust you to go to school by yourself. I do not want you crossing the street when some drivers think they own the road. I will not wait for that day for somebody to tell me, you are not going home anymore.”

 

Those words had been etched in my mind until now. Now that I already have kids. Now when all of them go to school. Except for my youngest, who still needs my guidance, all of them have to rely on themselves, brave the streets, trusting them enough, that they know what they are doing.The story that I told them many times  was done intentionally so that one day, when they feel that I had gotten used to their independence, when they thought they felt I had cared less because I am swamped with the demands of my work, to always remember  that when they head for the door, and feel their old enough to decide for themselves, that it will always be left open, waiting for their return, hoping finally that they had  found their way home.