You know what, I am having second thoughts about writing this out. I never mentioned or told anyone about this. I am actually typing-deleting-typing characters right now. Anyways, I started it already. I also have this thing about finishing what I had started. Okay, here are some of the untold stories of my life.
I grew up not having anything. I need to work hard for the things that I wanted. My family isn’t financially equipped. We were actually living on my grandparents house, until now. When I was kid, I remember I had always begged for money, for school projects, school organizations’ registration fees, school activities entrance fees, fare, snacks, etc. My mom would give me my ba-on, but my ba-on will not suffice. It is not that I want more, it is just not enough.
When I was in grade school, 6 years old I think, I do not know where exactly my father was but mom told me he was in Luzon. If I remember it correctly, he was gone for two years. Gone means he never called, he never send money, he never went home. Yup. A six years old could remember this crystals especially when you see your mother silently crying at the corner and there I was pretending to hear nothing or sleeping.
From then on, my grandfather had supported me and my mom. He is on his 50s and he works as a construction worker. Everyday, we would wait for him hoping he have something for dinner. If he doesn’t, he would ask me to buy some kangkong and takway from his friend. It costs only 5Php. Sometimes I would help the owner of the crops to pick up the takway and kangkoy on her fields. When I say ‘on her fields’, it means the vacant lot beside the road where she plants her crops. I would also utang some rice on the nearby tiangge. There are days that we only ate porridge for breakfast, to lunch and to dinner, days that I mixed salt or sugar or milk or Milo (chocolate powder) on rice for a meal, days that we would add a lot of water on a single pack of instant noodles, and days that I would just sleep my aching stomach.
I also remember, there were times that we can’t afford to buy rice anymore, or the owner of the tiangge won’t let us utang because of our bigtime debt. Somehow, my mom could make diskarte and lend me some bread which we call ‘buns’. Those buns saved my day back then. Those buns served as my whole ba-on for school, my lunch and my snacks. I don’t mind, I understand the situation. Besides, I was really not into eating on those times, I was into skipping ropes. But there were days that I wanted things like most of my classmates have, I would buy Pepsi Blue Cola on the canteen from the money I have which is intended for my fare home. You can’t blame me I’m just a kid. So it means, I have to walk home, I don’t mind, even if I have 8 books and 11 notebooks on my bag that would collapse any time soon, I don’t mind, I just need to get home and play more of skipping ropes.
Of course I did not tell mom I have been walking home for the past days, even if it was 12-15 kilometers. But there were times when my mother would help me do my assignments in the evening and I would have sudden nosebleed. It scared me so I stopped walking home, well, not totally stopped, I just don’t do it often. But I have my own kind of diskarte too, sometimes I would go rounds on the neighborhood or to wherever place my feet would take me and collect scrap metals and/or plastic bottles. My weekends would be like this and I will be able to collect sacks of it. I would sell it and there, I have my money. I would give the half to my mom and the half is intended to the toy I am rooting for. The toy is a ‘beyblade’. I never really acted ladylike before. There were times I would go hype when neighbors would ask me to collect pig food, leftovers I mean. Yup! You heard that right. I will have my little blue pail and would knock on the doors that I pass and ask for their sink-wastes. One pail is five pesos. 5PhP is a big money way back 2000. I would also help mom sell her banana cues and camote cues.
My dad came home for some time and my supposedly I-have-the-world-as-a-kid was revived. But then he needed to leave again because of work. I really don’t know exactly, he just left. Right then, I knew I needed to be strong and I understood how I can’t have what other kids have. When I was in 3rd grade, I was 8 years old by then, my siblings were born. They are twins. These are the moments that I started to feel left out and anxious about everything.
I can’t play outside anymore because I need to watch out for my siblings. My mom would always ask me to look out for them every time she would wash their ‘lampins’ (white clothe) because we cannot afford to buy diapers or when she would make ‘su-am’ (rice milk) because we cannot afford to buy infant milk and she can’t breast feed all the time. I would feel really bad about it BECAUSE I AM A KID I NEED TO PLAY. Sometimes, when I pray, I would ask the Lord “Why am I born in this family?” But then, I was just a kid. I would say Sorry to God afterwards.
My days as a kid were mostly out in the ocean. Slowly, I was drifted into things that I know can give me something in return. I seldom play with other kids. I became more of a school-church-home girl. I don’t have many friends at home. I knew some kids but they don’t want to hang out, except those who go to church with me. I was contented on the ‘tira-tira’ and the hand me downs of other people. I don’t mind.
Fast forward when my father went home. It’s for good tho. Things somehow changed. I don’t need to walk home anymore, I don’t need to collect scrap metals or leftovers. Yay!
You see, as I child, I don’t get enough. And when high school hits, I grew self-absorbed. I had never invited my friends at school to visit our house because I was ashamed and I was scared of the things that they would think about me, but also, we simply couldn’t fit. I would stay more hours at school than home because the comfort of school gives me a new identity. I wanted to be the other girl. I wanted to be someone else. And on those days, I pretend to be someone else. And for the record, yes it felt good. Felt.
Until one day, I fainted at school and I was rushed to the hospital. I have these bruises all over me and I have no idea where did I get it. I was diagnosed with Leukemia. We asked for a second opinion and good thing Leukemia was a false alarm. It was Rheumatic Heart Disease. Once again, I was reminded how I am blessed and loved that I have parents who would go miles to take care of me. Everyday, I would hear them mention names about where/whom to borrow what next. On sober nights, I could see my father murmur something on his sleep. I knew he wasn’t asleep, he is praying. And when my parents would look at me with those concerned loving eyes, I felt ashamed of myself. And I need not to be this other girl anymore.
I got well. This time, it is both the physical and whatever it is that was inside of me. I was back on track again.
I saw how my dad worked hard for us. He would go to work on weekends for an extra income. Life is hard, especially when you have twins to take good care of. And I can’t be the one to put my caprices in line on my parents’ troubles. One day, I found myself writing about things I didn’t expect I would write. It was my realizations and goals. Right then, I promised myself that in everything that I would do, I do it with my best, and that is — to study well.
When I wake up each morning, I would always ask myself Why and to Whom am I doing this. And I’ll be reminded that in more than anything else, I do this because my parents deserve a pay back. That in everything that I do for myself and on how I feel on things that happen to me, they feel it too. Ten, Twenty folds. They deserve all the credit and that I will always be in debt because they had raised me well.
They may not give me all the things that I wanted but surely they have given me all the things that I needed. They may not have finished their studies or just reached college but they have taught me countless of lessons I could not learn in school. They may not received the Best Parent Award on Parents-Teachers Association meetings because they can’t provide me with huge cakes and trays of macaroni salad enough to share for everyone in class during Christmas Party, but that does not make me less proud because they have been the Better than the Best Parents every striving child could ask for.
So I studied well.
Because seeing the tired eyes of my parents smile because I got a perfect score in an exam is beyond everything. Yes, I never had those shoes with mini roller blades in them, those multi-layered pencil-case, those pink dresses and cute little hair clips, or a Jolibee birthday party. Yes, I never had a typical grand and a must-be childhood. Yes, I cried myself to sleep because I am not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. But I have these stories, and I’m making you cry.
And I am a proud kid. Always.