Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Remembering Nanay

                                      Photo by Aaron Burden from Pexels 

It was a time of disquiet then; the protest movement against the dictatorship intensified in many parts of the country after the death of Ninoy Aquino. I knew during that time that I shall be taking a different path from the ones chosen by many, including my siblings and friends, who graduated from my university. I left the comfort and familiarity of my home and became an organizer in the youth and student movement, preparing myself to work with people in the margins of the countryside. I left home one day in October, leaving a letter of thanks and expressing my gratefulness to my parents for being there for my siblings and me from the very beginning. I know, in my heart, that one day my parents would be able to accept me, their activist daughter.

So many things happened after I left home. I learned the value of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment during those days. I realized how much I missed my family when I watched the stars at night and wondered how they were, praying that they knew that I loved them so much in their hearts.

It was when I saw my mother on the sidewalks of Morayta, right before a protest rally scheduled at Mendiola, that I learned the depth of my mother's love. I learned that she tried to look for me at protest marches, watching from the streets, going to the places I have been to, praying, and hoping we may see each other again.

We both cried after seeing each other.

I am writing this reflection to remember a woman who gave me the love she could provide, who went with me to a protest concert at St. Theresa's College, who decided to look for me one day at Morayta, knowing that she may see me in the protest march.  She may not be the perfect mother for me, but it is from her that I  get to know what grit and determination mean.

I love you, Nanay, and know that I am sharing the lessons of the memories you left with your grandchildren. 

Praying for you on your birthday.

Saturday, 22 January 2022




My Sister's Story

I became a  full-time youth organizer, leaving my home and my studies before I graduated from college. My sister, Minx, gave me this reflection about her conversation with our mom during the period that I left home as her gift to me and in memory of our mom. I am sharing segments of her story, with her permission - Amy Muga

The fire trees were on their last blooms. Their crowns are aglow with flame-like blossoms not unlike the dying embers of campfires. The golden shower tree swayed in the wind. Its grapelike cluster hung like droplets of golden sunshine.

She was looking thru the window as she folded my sister's clothes. Staring in fact yet oblivious to the explosion of colors gifted by the trees she has planted and tended from seed.

"Do you know where she went?" My mother's voice was reeking with sadness.

"No, I have no idea."

"We have to search for her."

I let out a deep sigh for I could foretell what our arduous search would entail. I have seen it before. Parents, brothers, sisters, lovers of friends who are missing. 

First, the police stations - have you picked up anybody violating the curfew? Then we make the trek to the Office of the Task Force Detainees - any new faces at Bicutan or Pag-Asa or any of the myriad of political prisoner camps strewn around the city? Next, the convents-the nuns are very active in hiding people wanted by the government. And finally, the morgues, to look for salvaging victims left by the waysides for the flies to feast on, dead hollow eyes unseeing the violence that was visited upon them.

Nanay's usually ramrod straight back, was slightly slumped, carrying an unseen burden. She started to quietly mouth the mysteries of an imaginary rosary.  Imaginary, for rosaries as well as crosses, saints Statues, and prayer books are banned in our household. Though she was born to a very old Catholic family, she married my father.  His family was one of the original members of the indigenous Protestant religion in the country. And to marry a member you have to give up your own religion and convert.

"Of course, there will be changes. Your sister, she has always disapproved of our Christmas parties..."

"Nanay. are you happy?" I once asked.

"I can't recall ever hearing you laugh. "

She gave me the look. The look that seems to say,

'Here you go again, thinking too deeply, analyzing things best left alone.' 

"Laughing out loud is like tempting fate. What is important is being at peace."

She has seen so much and experienced a lot. She grew up as one of the daughters of a political clan in the North and violence has peppered her family's history. An uncle was assassinated as he received the holy communion in Church.  In retaliation, a cousin burned down a whole village. The cries of widows and children left homeless can still be heard in the winds as you pass by Bantay.

She headed to Manila away from the violence never to return in more than 30 years. Her list of changes sounded like incantations, peace offerings to the gods. As if saying, I am willing to make changes, do all these just so I can have my daughter back.

"DO you think she will return?"

I dared not answer. All I have are useless, empty words. They hold no hope.

"Where should we start?" Her hands tentatively touching a lone hanging thread on my sister's shirt,  afraid that a slight pull might unravel my sister's whole existence.

My Favorite Post!

Remembering Nanay

                                       Photo by  Aaron Burden  from  Pexels   It was a time of disquiet then; the protest movement against t...