I’m blessed with a happy childhood. It always brings me joy to remember.
My Tata Sixto has such meztiso features while my Inana Eya was more exotic. They had ten children, one of whom died during the war.
My Daddy was third among these children. Being the eldest boy, he had shared responsibility in raising up his younger brothers and sisters.
My Mommy is a beauty from the north. Being ten years younger than my Daddy, there was some sort of generation gap between them. But they survived forty-four years of marriage, because according to Mommy there was no expiration date on their marriage contract. Thank God.
Aside from two spinsters, my Daddy’s siblings all have families of their own. With this huge clan, my brother, sister and I grew up with learning to drink beer before we were even teenagers. We also learned how to play mahjong, black jack and lucky nine like it was a family membership requirement.
But note: this was only during fiesta of Patron San Marcos … and Christmas … and New Year … and some Tito’s or Tita’s birthday.
During these celebrations, the third generation to which I belong had the time of our lives. We get to stay up late until dawn. We played habulan, taguan, and patintero.
We read komiks rented from the store in the kanto. We played teks and goma. We climbed trees. We collect flowers for Flores de Maria in May. We invade Inanang Mary’s store for kornik and chicharon lapad.
Above all these, we were taught values that would be our guide when we grew up. Inana Eya was a devout Catholic. And though she did not impose, we were taught how to practice our faith by her example.
We were taught how to “mano po” to show respect to our elders. Say “po” and “opo”.
In Manaoag, during our vacations to Mommy’s hometown, we even experienced how at 6pm, when the church bells rang, every one stopped to pray the angelus. Even if they were on the middle of the street, people would stop to face the church and pray, in reverence, until the church bells stopped ringing.
Those were the days when our grandparents lived and loved. Those were the times when all we did was laugh. And if we must cry, it was because we yearned to laugh some more.