My life is not a faux reality.
Posted by Paurong sa Linggo, Pebrero 11, 2007
January 28, 1991, a subtle Monday. It was around six in the morning when the cry of a sophisticated newborn baby was heard. An unexplainable jauntiness aroused within the house where I was born and the tension coincided with joyfulness.
I was raised in a typical family. Besides my parents and siblings, I lived with my grandfather (the father of the father) and my grandmother (the wife of my grandfather on his second marriage after my real grandmother died) and with their two daughters.
My father has three siblings: Clarita (which I call Tita Claire) residing at Batangas. Bernardito (Tito Beng) which, I think, died when I was about four years old. He committed suicide on our bathroom. I still remember one moment of his wake wherein I have to force myself on seeing who was there inside the coffin. I was small that time so I have to raise my heels to the fullest effort just to outstand the wonder in my head. And Alberto (is that his name?). He doesn’t live here anymore. As they have told me, he was evicted from this house because of his blameworthy actions. My father’s other sisters are Vivian and Lhea.
I studied my primary years in school at San Miguel Elementary School, where I started to learn things and to cope with different predicaments. I was the top in the class from Kinder to Sixth Grade. I graduated as the Class Valedictorian, left the school with great memories, and treasured friends.
However, many unanticipated events transpired in that small span of time. From Pasig, we moved to Mandaue, Cebu to live for some time. My father was not with us that time. We even went to Puerto Galera, Mindoro, and lived at my mother’s sister’s house for a couple of months. My father was not with us again, I suppose. The only time I remember that we dwelt outside Pasig is when we lived at Cavite for a couple of months, I assume.
My life was in a total misery. On Cebu, I experience living in a house with no appliances at all. My sisters and I would go to the neighbor to enjoy watching television. The memoirs are not that vivid. I really cannot evoke anything else than the picturesque description I can perceive in my mind relating the place of our existence there on Mandaue. I think there was a hut there where we were sitting there gabbing all afternoon.
On Mindoro, it was a tormented place despite of the relaxing ambience of the seaside. I lived with my aunt and his husband. I mingled with my younger cousins and learned, to be honest, hooligan stuffs, not to the extent that it can be treated as a “crime”, you know. I spent a lot of time walking along the seashore, picking up shells and listening to the fluttering breeze of the magnificence.
I remember that time when I first go there. Before going to the house, my mother bought a container of Stick-O for us, her children.
I remember my aunt promising me on swimming on the pool (she is working on the Puerto Galera Resort blah blah) if I would eat my dinner quickly. I want to laugh at myself for believing in that excuse.
To be honest, my aunt was really good to me. She is a caring type of aunt whom anybody would wish for. She accepted me wholeheartedly and loved me as much as loving a child.
One hot day, I went to the nearby coast and would put my feet on water. What a great time! Then I saw something yellow that was floating. Out of my curiosity, and assuming that it is a bone of an eaten mango, I wanted to pick it up and try to toss it as far as it would go. But then, a split second after picking it up, I then realized that it was nothing but a yellowish animal manure. Yuck! I was about to talk it over my siblings but had the insecurity. I want to laugh at myself again. What a silly person I am!
Notwithstandily, it was not really a tormented place. It was an ecstasy. I remember, that evening, while “Ghost Fighter” was on the television screen, my mother was hollering incessantly at me, spanking me and cursing me. I do not know why she turned berserk that evening. I just remember that I was sobbing greatly that time that I was thinking of dislodging myself on that place and go anywhere else just to alleviate the pain, physically and emotionally. I remember myself hiding inside the closet to escape the hanger my mother was holding which was all set to strike me.
I remember my youngest sister being maligned by evil spirits, one afternoon. My mother accompanied her to an herb man. I wanted to go with them that time but she insisted me to stay at home. It was also that time, as far as I can recall, when I saw a rainbow in the sky.
I am still puzzled why I am pursuing myself to reminisce those events in my life.
I remember that time when I was inside the place where my aunt was working. There was this phone, which I think resembles the phone thing you see in the malls especially on the shoe areas where the sales clerks communicate with the people inside the shoe storeroom. I picked up the phone and then hung it up after hearing someone talking on the line. My aunt discovered what I have done and chided me, of course.
Picking up shells and starfishes was my habit. Also, I loved spending time on the sea. One ordinary afternoon, urging myself to be proud of being afar from my sister on the sea, I went far away holding on the side part of a boat. I was ceremonially grand on that achievement yet all was turned to be absolute arrogance when I felt a sea urchin thumping every inch of my feet down the sea level. I cried for help. After hauling me from the sea, I was brought to our house. The remedy they procured was my own urine. They let me urinate and soak my urine of my feet. I do not know how long my feet ached, but the idea of using my urine as the solution is still dreadful to me.
All in all, I spent a great time living in Mindoro. I just do not know if I still want to go there again. Still afraid of the urchins!
Another place was Cavite. Why did we have to go there? I do not know. We lived there. It was fun. But boring. Too inaudible unlike here in Metro Manila.
What I remember most about living in Cavite is that our house was quite elevated in a terrain. I also remember that I love eating at that plate wherein there are divisions or certain spaces provided for the viand, for the rice, for the catsup, for example. I also remember that I play pins of bowling toys. As well as the memory that I was surprised that my grandfather brought me to Cavite then left me when I was sleeping. After waking up, I asked my mother where my Lolo is. She told me he left. When I went outside, I ran for the tricycle bearing my Lolo but then failed to run for it.
Most of my childhood was spent here in Pasig, the same place, the same house where I am living right now. I remember the times we go roaming around the mall, eating at Jollibee, taking pictures, playing at the amusement part of the mall with those funny and entertaining cars operated by tokens. But then, there was still no sign of the future hurricane approaching. We lived in the other side of the house where my Lola’s sister’s family used to live. Birthdays were celebrating not extravagantly but filled with affection coming from each member of the family.
At a very young age, it came not half to my mind that my life will come to wreckage. In spite of the achievements I was garnering in school with the undisputed help of my grandparents, my life started to ruin itself.
One morning, I found out that my mother and my sisters were leaving. Bags packed, they left the house and when I asked them where they are going, my mother told me that it’s not important. I begged to come with them. My mother told me that I would come if I would take a bath first. I didn’t move for awhile, and scrutinized if they would escape from me but when I thought that they really are waiting, I scurried to finish bathing and when I came back to the very place where I left them, they had left already. I was bewildered. I was expecting them to return but nothing I believed happened.
I was not alone since my father was still with me. We were living on my Tita Claire’s house a few blocks away from my grandparent’s house. My father became fund of playing billiard on the nearly pool hall. I was aware of that girl he was with everytime he was playing there. The first time I saw the girl was when I was running home to find out the girl kneeling in front of my father who was washing clothes that time. I couldn’t be mistaken. She was kissing him. I was about to leave the scene when my father, instead of yelling, summoned me to go inside to introduce his workmate. I ignored his invitation and run away.
Some time later, my father left, the only difference is that he told us he was leaving—leaving for work. I believed him. We even had a picture together the last time he was there for me. But after a while, my mind set off to be progressively mature enough to understand fully what had happened.
I was left on the side of my Lolo and Lola. No news about my father, my mother, and my siblings. My father seldom sent money for me. Likewise, my mother became idle in my life. I was caressed by my Lolo and Lola. They took care of me ever since my parents left me. They gave me hope to see life as we know it.
My two aunts were great helps also. My Ate Vivian would usually go out with me and spend time eating at fast foods, watching movies which were really enjoyable. My Ate Lhea would then normally teach me things, bring me pasalubong, pioneered me to the world of computers and the likes, and she was the one who introduced Harry Potter to me.
I loved it when either or both of them have visitors here in the house. Maybe it is because of my loneliness. And I must admit, I believe I am attention deficit.
When Ate Lhea had a Filipino boyfriend from the States, she had a PC in this house and so I learned a lot of things about computer just because of my curiousity. But then, my Ate Lhea had to marry this guy. He is Kuya Danny. They got married. I was the one who read the First Reading on their wedding. My aunt had to fly to America to live with Kuya Danny. And so it was just my Lolo, my Lola, my Ate Vivian and me left.
My Lolo was a great help to me. He was really kind that no other grandfather could replace him. His deeds for me were priceless. He brings me to school each morning by his bicycle and he’s also the one who fetches me. He helped me in my assignments and did everything possible to support me. He always accompany me to the library everytime I want to read. That’s my first step on loving books. He was there to put on the medals I received. He was very proud of me. And I am also proud of him being my Lolo. But then he was sick. He had a stroke. He started to be inaudible and had to stay on bed. My Lola took care of him. One time, I wasn’t expecting my father to come. He returned because he was alarmed with the situation of his father. He was with a seem-to-be four-year-old boy nicknamed Emjay. I have realized that he is his son. After some day, my father left and so was the moment I thought I would be spending with him faded.
My Lolo’s illness became severe that he was wailing so hard we did not know what to do. One night, the pain had came to an end. And so was my dream for him to be the one to put on my medal for the last time in my elementary days. It came to an end. The morning after that evening, I woke up, being ready for the next school day, seeing no one downstairs and seeing no one lying on that bed where my grandfather was fighting for recovery. I was shocked to know that he had gone. I didn’t cry.
The days for the wake run across me without weeping at all. But when he was about to be brought to his final destination, when the coffin was opened for the family to bid last goodbyes, I was ceaselessly whimpering, tears falling rapidly. I had the chance to take my final “mano” to my Lolo as tears were gushing down my eyes. But then I had to accept the truth that he had gone but will still remain inside my heart… forever. And so it was just my Lola, my Ate Vivian and me left.
Then Graduation came, I was announced as the Class Valedictorian of our school. I faced issues involving my genuineness on being such but outstood that with a smile. On the morning of the Graduation day, I was astonished to know that my mother, my father and Joy was here in our house. They went here for it was a special moment of my life, they said. I was thrilled on seeing my mother. When she was about to embrace me, I locked myself inside the bathroom and behind that door, I cried. I can’t distinguish my emotion that time. I ain’t happy and I also ain’t sad. I was mad! They went here and they were gone again.
I entered high school, and I loved it. Everytime I go to school, I forget the emptiness life had bestowed unto me even for a while. But still, every single detail of worthlessness lingered in my life.
I was a section one student during my first year at Rizal High School. What would it be at Rizal High? How would I cope with more than three thousand students? My life as a high school student was full of adjustments. Being in the section one class was hard yet enjoyable since I gained friends. I started to appreciate knowing more things. At first I thought that entering the gargantuan RHS would be massively perilous but then as time went by, I noticed that high school life is a great fun. At the end of the school year, I knew that I was demoted to section two since my grade was the cut-off. I was not that tormented with the fact that I would go see new classmates and a new environment during my Sophomore year.
I spent my vacation at home with my sister Joy who wished to spend his vacation here in Pasig. She left before the School Year began.
Being a II-2 student was more exciting than being a I-1 student. I experience a lot of things I never imagined. A lot of things transpired that I have to set some other time talking about those things. One thing I am sure is that I love being a Sophomore.
During the vacation, my sisters asked my aunt and my Lola if they could spend their vacation here in Pasig. I was totally happy on seeing my sisters and also flamboyant on the idea that I will spend my vacation worthily with them. And so they were here. I was really gleeful.
One time, my father phoned and told my sisters that he will be getting them. He told my sisters that they will no longer stay or reside on their respective places. My father asked me if I would like to go with them. I refused. Then a little later, I realized that I really missed my father and I am in all honest longing to see him again.
And so, the four of us went to Davao by airplane. It was my sisters’ first time to travel by airplane. My first time was when I left Cebu for Manila. I was then alone. It was just me. My father was the one who accompanied me to the airport in Cebu. Imagine, I’m only a child that time. Perhaps, five, six years old. I was sitting between two strangers who helped me in eating the food. I even asked, without trepidation, the one beside me to help me in punching the straw to the tetra pack juice. When I was already in the airport of Manila, I did not know what to do. Hey, I’m just a kid! Could anybody help me? Nah. Whatever! My Lolo and Lola was there far away waiting for my arrival.
And so I was the one responsible for my sisters. We arrived at Davao, safe and unharmed. I breathed so hard that I barely believe I will be living in Davao. With my father. With my sisters. I left Pasig for my father. For a family.
It would be a new tomorrow, I surmised.
Outside the airport, there waiting, was my father. A wide smile was hidden behind my equivocal character. It was evening then. I felt the warmth of acceptance and longing from my father. He introduced us to his family: the wife and the two children, one of whom I knew already, the one he brought with him the time my Lolo was ill. The other child is younger, a girl. The tenderness was killing me and something touched my heart: the manila paper in his scooter saying welcome to us. I was touched, mind you.
With our bags, the wife and the children, with the two elder sisters hailed a cab. My youngest sister and I rode the scooter with our father. In the middle of the journey, my father was asked by a police to stop and confiscated his plate for the illegality of his driving. And so he had to leave us for a while to find money. A little later, all was fine. Yet for me, I was horrified with what I was facing.
They live in just a small space. Inconsiderably a house. Just a space. Just a room. They had a small television, a player, a rice cooker, a lampshade, a range beneath the sink, a pair of small monoblock chair and no more but a medium-sized foam considered as the bed and sofa.
I thought I could stand it. However, I went back to Pasig since I could not help thinking that I would be living beneath a roof with his family. At night, I was then writing letters for my father telling him that I hate him for ruining my life. I told him I cannot help staying there thinking that he cannot support each one of us. 4 plus 2 plus 1 wife that’s seven people he has to feed. What kind of life would I have if I would stay there? What kind of life would he promise if I’ll stay there? I spent nine days in Davao and asked help from my Ate Vivian, through the internet, to lend me a ticket back home. I wanted to return to Pasig. My life is there so I had to return. Again, I was alone. I was alone.
When I was already back here in this house, I found a letter in my luggage.
May 28 ’05
My dear son Jonell,
After all, I thought that this would be a happy family reunion. Eight years I was longing for this and a very long eight years I’ve been waiting for. It was indeed a prayer that has been answered. But yet only sadness and loneliness with bitterness was fading on.
It was early in the morning wayback year 1991, at around 6 am, when everybody got so busy preparing and waiting for the coming of a special someone. All were so excited, while a mother in pain was trying to catch her breath, giving all her strength for her final “iri”. But she couldn’t do anything but to pause for a while and start her “iri” again.
They suggested me to step out of the house for some reason (pamahiin). Inside the house was a mother two hours laboring at around 8 am while I was standing outside. I heard a loud cry of a new born baby. Uha! Uha! Uhaaa… I ran inside with joy and excitement. It was a healthy 8.2 lbs baby boy. At that very moment, when I first saw the baby boy, joy was flowing in my heart. I was so happy and excited on my first baby I had and we named him “JONELL”.
On the first year of your life ay naging sakitin ka dahil sa hika mo. Kung makailang balik-balik tayo sa hospital–pabalik-balik sa doktor sa pagpapagamot sa’yo. But doctors and nurses were amazed with you kasi kahit injection-an ka eh di ka umiyak. Kapag may nararamdaman ka na at may sakit ang gusto mo lang ay ang kargahin kita. Hanggang sa pagtulog mo ay pagkarga ang gusto mo. Pinagpupuyatan ko na isayaw ka with my own version of lullaby. Wala ka yatang ibang kilala noon kundi ako lang. Even your Mama, ayaw mo makarga ka. Ang Tita Vivs, Tita Lhea, Lola at Lolo pag kinarga ka nila ay iiyak ka na agad. Pag clean body, pagligo mo, toothbrush… si Papa lang ang gusto mo.
But I was not able to continue my responsibility to you when I worked in Cebu. That was the time kinuha ka ng Lolo at Lola mo. and all through those years, eight years kang nasa poder nila… inalagaan, minahal ng higit pa sa isang anak. You lived like a prince… sunod ang gusto, sunod ang layaw. Kabaligtaran ng lahat sa akin nang ako ay nasa poder pa ng Lola mo. She was unkind to me before as a stepmother. Takot ako sa Lola mo. But naging masunurin akong anak, magalang at masipag, sinusunod ko ang lahat ng iutos sa akin kaya napakalaki ng pasasalamat ko nang arugain ka ng Lola mo ng higit sa lahat ng pagmamahal niya. (Mahalin mo din ng lubos ang Lola mo at alagaan, suklian mo ng paggalang ang kanyang sakripisyo sa iyo!) When my mother died (Lola Nilda) in my young age of three, nang magkaisip ako, ay nagisnan ko na ang second family ko… ang step mother lola mo, kapatid ko na sina Vivian at Lhea. Marami din akong bitterness noon, tampo, selos at sama ng loob. Kasi nga mas priority ng Lola mo sina Vivs at Lhea. Pero tiniis ko ang lahat. Naging mabuti pa rin ako sa kanila. Meron din akong sama ng loob sa Lolo mo. Marami akong katanungan na itinago ko na lang sa sarili ko. Hanggang magkalayo-layo tayong pamilya ay masama pa rin ang loob ko sa Lolo mo. Nang ma-stroke ang Lolo mo and he was already in bed of sickness, nang umuwi ako ng Manila, doon lumuha ang mga mata ko at humingi ng tawad kay Tatay, sa Lolo mo. At doon sa kanyang libing ay kasama at ipinabaon ko din sa kanya ang aking pagmamahal at paghingi ng patawad.
Sana, anak, ako! habang nabubuhay pa, ay magawa mo nang mapatawad sa lahat ng pagkukulang ko sa iyo. Even a million sorry are not enough to be forgiven. If only I can turn back the hands of time para mabalikan ko ang panahon na malapit tayo sa isa’t isa at ang gusto ko mahal mo ako. But now! It seems I’m a stranger to you, tama ka! Halos nga ay di mo na ako kilala. You don’t even bothered to respect me as your Papa. Sana madama ko ulit yung malapit ka sa akin. Sana, anak, hindi pa huli ang lahat para sa pagpapatawad mo.
Sana, babalik ka sa Manila, dala-dala mo ang experience kung paano mamuhay ng mahirap na hindi mo dinanas. Walang ulam! Walang sabon! Walang merienda! Walang lamesa na kainan! Walang mapaglilibingan. Wala kahit ano man ako. Sana din magawa mo maunawaan na sina MJ at Kaye (Dada) ay kapamilya mo din. Mga kapatid mo din sila na hindi dapat kutyain, hindi dapat galitan at sisihin. Tulad mo din sila, biktima lang ng isang sitwasyon at pangyayaring hindi natin inasam.
Sana dumating ang panahon, in due time, ay maunawaan mo ang mga pangyayari sa buhay natin, sa buhay mo, kung bakit tayo naging ganito at sa lahat, ang iyong pagpapatawad sa mga magulang mo.
Magpakabait ka, anak, at sikapin ang mga pangarap mo sa buhay. Mahalin mo ang mga kapatid mo Joy, May-may, Din-din at ang pagpapatawad sa’yong Mama. Alagaan mo ang iyong Lola, mahalin siya at igalang.
Salamat at kahit paano sa loob ng isang linggo ay nagkasama tayo. Masaya na ako noon. Kahit medyo nagwa-wild ka ata!
Okey, anak, take care always.
Mahal na mahal kita noon hanggang ngayon.
I love you, son, my Jonell.
Forgiveness will set you free from your unstable emotion. Think of happy moments, not the bitter ones.
God bless our family.
Your PAPA forever,
Love you most.
Now sixteen. That’s right. It’s me Jonell Borbon Estillore, living with my grandmother and is supported by my aunt which is the half-sister of my father. My parents are not with me as well as my siblings. Life for me is so challenging.
But then again, I also see to it that I am not alone. Not now. I thought I was, though. I am with God. He will never leave me. He will never forsake me. He is the only help I have. And so is He for you as well.
God bless you, reader.