“The Odd Life that was Heard of but Unknown”

My life is full of plot twists. Sometimes, I do think that I’m just a plot twist living in this chaotic world. One of the best plot twists that I had was the chapter of my childhood days.  I can clearly remember all of the things that was said and done, for it is one of the few things that was worth remembering.

          I can’t breathe, my hands are sweating cold, all eyes are on me… I can’t hear the voices, the laughing, and the whispers of the kids around me, except my heart that was going to pop out of my chest. I was in the third grade and at this moment my adviser, Ma’am Cecil was fuming mad in front of me, but before that scene, this is what really happened. We’re having a quiz and I feel like I’m in a need to pee, Ma’am wasn’t there so I just decide to go outside. I saw Ma’am laughing alone. I thought she was crazy. When I come back to the room the kids where again staring at me like I was a trash, but I don’t mind. “Baliw si Ma’am” I said it in a whisper but I didn’t know that my classmates will hear it especially the bullies. Everything was too fast Ma’am entered the room and one of the bullies stood up and said “Ma’am baliw ka daw sabi ni Reginne!”  Ms. Cecil was really mad, that I had a detention which is to stay at the library until class dismissal. Principal Dumilon asked me with what I’ve done, I said “Sinabihan ko po ng baliw yung teacher ko”  then she told me that if I’ll apologize I won’t have any punishment. But I didn’t, I didn’t do anything wrong! I just said what I think is right for me! I was just a kid! They should have understood me! I promise to myself at that time that I won’t cry.

But everything had change just because of a memory. It was summer May 2018; I was in an outing with my friends at Montalban. I know how to swim but not when the height of the pool was higher than me. I can still reach the floor, but the waves of the water send me in the middle of the pool. I can’t breathe, I try to take a grip on something but I’m in the middle, I can’t reach the floor, I felt weak, helpless and scared to death at the same time, I decide that I’ll just let myself to drown, until I remember something, luckily I did…

 It was year 2008, there was a little girl, a kindergarten student, sitting in the pool, and it was there fieldtrip at a resort. She felt envy with those kids who knows how to swim, she want to try. But, little did she know that the pool’s height was way too higher for her, she fell… she was crying in the water, she thought it was possible. But then a woman came to save her. The woman comforts her and brought her to the cottage.

I’m going to die… that’s what I thought that summer, until I remember that memory. Some people say that when you’re about to die, anything that you had since you were born will play like a flashback in your eyes. I think it was too late for me, but then I shouted “Hindi ako makahinga… hindi ako makahinga…”  I thought no one will hear me but someone did, it is one of my friends. I told myself that I’m not going to cry, but I did, Hindi ako makahinga… hindi ako makahinga…”   that was the same words that the little girl shouted when she was about to drown but Ms. Cecil saved her, Ma’am Cecil saved me… 

I’m sorry… I’m sorry… those words keeps coming out my mouth. I was too stubborn at that time I always think that I’m right, I really don’t think if what will happen next if I did something. I was crying I know I was, I shouldn’t have said that to Ms. Cecil… not as an act of gratitude for what she have done, for saving my life. But for letting me realize that I’m not always right… I should think about the consequences… I should be careful and that I still have a lot of things to learned throughout my journey.

“Stupid, Idiot, Tanga, Bobo, Tanga, Bobo…”

Those are my nicknames when I was a kid. I already thought that, that was my name for everyone was calling me using those words. Some of the kids at my age keep on calling me “BoboBonsai” (my real nickname was Bonsai), even the tambays at the streets and even the kids at school.

I didn’t know that I could cry a lot, that I have a lot of water inside of me. What hurts me the most way back then was that my parents saying that I’m Bobo that… why can’t I be the smart child like our neighbor’s daughter? I was born mute, voiceless… and all I did was to cry when my Mom will smash me on the head with a broom, when my father will smash me on my head with a book as thick as the encyclopedia, when my mother will be mad at me and will ask me to eat a crumpled paper and when my mother would wish that I wasn’t their child. I hated them… they should be the first one to understand me when I was weak, they should be the first one to hold me when I’m crying… they are my parents, they should be the one to be on my side while the kids at school were bullying me, they should be the one protecting me when the kids where throwing stones at me, but no…

I grew up with the flames of madness towards my parents, I grow up as a rebel in my own way. I get poor grades, I come home late, I don’t eat with them, I always locked myself in my room reading books, and I won’t utter a word with them unless I need to when my parents have visitors.  

There came a point that my father asked me to eat a Sinigang… but not just a simple Sinigang with the rice on it, but with small pieces of the page of the Bible. He thought that I’ll be a good child if I eat that.

And, maybe I was… because it didn’t happen again… I can still remember the taste of the paper.

It took me some time to realize everything. I grew up mad with my parents because I don’t understand them… I don’t. I always think that they are the most bad parents but no, because they didn’t left me in the streets like those other mothers have done, and I still eat three times a day and I have a good education and a good allowance. I keep on comparing my life with other people at my age instead of accepting what I have. “Everything happens for a reason…” at first I hate that quote because… Why? Why do I need to experience those things?

I started studying at the age of 4, wherein, I can already read English and Filipino (like the ugly duckling), I can already right my own stories, I can add three digit numbers, I can… I know I can… I prove to myself that I’m not those nicknames people keep on calling me before… I earn a lot of achievements in Elementary and in Junior high, not to boast nor to be proud. But I want to do it for my parents… I wouldn’t be here if I don’t stood up on my feet and to walk the path that I should have… those painful chapters of my life, are not to remind me the hate for those people who pulled me done, but to continue living and to thrive for my dreams.

Now, the pain continues to ease but they’re not fading… they remind me with the burning desire that I have to breathe and to continue living. My parents wants the best for me, Ma’am Cecil wants to save me… they’re not perfect, I know that my parents did those things just because of the emotions they had at that time but they didn’t really mean to do that… like what Ma’am Cecil did when she was fuming mad in front of me…

Everything was clear now… luckily, it was not too late for me… If I’ll look at the bigger picture of things, there’ll be a good thing… finally I’ve seen it, the odd life that was heard of but was never told. “We must look at the lens through we see the world, as well as the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

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“Ang Tunog”

Tok…tok…tok…tok…

“Ate?… ano ba ‘yong tunog na’yon?” sabay kalabit sa’kin ng kapatid ko na aking katabi sa higaan

Ilang buwan na rin pamula nung naiwan kami ni Mikasa, sapagkat may inaasikaso ang aming magulang sa probinsiya.

“Wag mo nang pansinin yun! nako kung anu-ano nanaman yang napapansin mo, mauna ka ng kumain Mikasa at tatapusin kopa tong Flashfiction ko sa 21st  Century namin”

Tulak-tulak ko sya palabas ng pinto noong mapansin ko na medyo lumakas yung tunog na nanggagaling sa kwarto ng kapatid ko

Sa totoo lang napapansin ko rin yung tunog na sinasabi ni Mikasa,ilang araw na pero bigyang pansin ni laliman ng pag-iisip.

 Dahil tinatakot ko lang ang sarili ko kapag ganun, baka matakot din si Mikasa, kailangan kong maging matatag para sa kanya.

Kakamot-kamot na pumunta sa kusina ang kapatid ko, samantalang, naisipan ko namang tingnan kung ano iyong bagay na lumilikha nung tunog.

Tunog na parang inuumpog na bagay sa pader ng kwarto naming dalawa, tunog na nagpapagising sa’kin tuwing alas-tres ng madaling araw.

Madilim, at tila amoy patay na daga ang amoy na bumungad sa’kin ng buksan ko ang kwarto ni Mikasa

Pundido ang ilaw sapagkat anumang bukas ko’y hindi na umilaw pa’t kumurap

Marahil ay dahil doon kaya madalas siyang nasa kwarto ko na halos magi-isang linggo na

Muntik na’kong matapilok sa upuan na nakaharang, ngunit tumuloy pa rin ako upang hawiin ang kurtina, na siyang nagpa-silay sa ilaw ng buwan.

Kakaibang lamig na lumilibot ang  nanunuot sa aking balat, nakapagtataka, nakakabahala.

Tok.tok.tok… ang tunog na kusang nagpa-lingon sa ulo ko, na sana’y di ko na ginawa pa

Nagulat ako sa nakita ko’t halos mang-hilakbot sa kung anong nasa harap ko

“Ate… ate… ate… sa wakas… patawad… ate…”

Ang tinig ay nagmumula sa pinto, hindi… hindi…

nanlalaki ang mga mata kong palipat-lipat ang tingin sa batang nakabitin mula sa ceiling fan.

Where’s Mang Mario?

I would never forget the day that I met Mang Mario…

One time, Our SocSci teacher asked us to take a photo of a social issue. It was Sunday when I decide to visit Manila and went to my father’s working place. There I saw my father helping an old man, an old man with dirt in his face, carrying bags of trashes in his hands, with sweat in his forehead, you know, like the typical image that we imagine in a poor old man. But, there’s something with Mang Mario that you won’t witness as life swift a move that made life much miserable than it has to be. It’s his smile, when my father will talk with him they are always laughing out loud, Mang Mario is a cheerful old man that neglects the fact that he is poor but filled with grace and hopes.

It was not the first time that I saw Mang Mario, my father works at the Asian Social Institue for 19 years and Mang Mario was already there. When I was a little girl, let’s say 8 years old my father used to bring me at his workplace for no one will took care of me at home. I’am always at the guard house sitting there waving at people with a cheerful smile if I have to, suddenly my smile fades when I saw an old man walking inside, my father went to help him with the garbages, I was so young and innocent and frightened at the same time with how he looks (the effects of watching telenovelas and movies). He look at me and to my father again, having no doubt that I’m my father’s daughter with how I’m mold with my father’s features, he smile at me and back to my father then mouthed thanks before leaving with  bags og trash and a box of meal on his other hand.

 “Salamat po”

him with the life he has then admire him with his determination and great perseverance to live, dwell, and survive each day.

Mang Mario is one of the evidence that we can see in the continuing persistence of poverty. It is quite saddening that, there are still people like Mang Mario who deals and dwells with the unfathomable life beyond the city of Manila.

He was always in the noisy street of Leon Guinto, Malate Manila. Collecting garbages in the morning, looking for scraps and bottles in the afternoon, and dwelling with the wild life of the night as the sun goes down, Mang Mario sleeps peacefully in the sidewalk and when the day would come again, the cycle of his life continues. I met him because of my father. My father works as a Security Guard in a School.

The first time that I saw Mang Mario was at the gate of my father’s working place. He was there carrying all the garbage bags and looking what’s inside of it, like his digging a sand to look for a treasure that can change the cycle of his life. I ask my father about Mang Mario and he just told me that what I saw was something that Mang Mario used to do every day for a living.

As I approach Mang Mario to ask him if I can take a photo of him while his doing his job, I was surprised with his politeness, and with the smile that he has on his face even if his life isn’t as good as it could be. “I’m poor,I know… But I’m rich with God’s grace and never-ending hopes.” He said when I asked him one time with how he sees his life. Mang Mario inspired me to strive more and to not lose hope with life, humanity, with my fears and with the struggles I have.

Now, he was no longer there I asked my father and just shrugs his shoulders, Mang Mario left suddenly. I may not now where the great old man is right now, but I know that God will lead him into a way he deserves and guide him with the life cycle he ought to be.