Postscript on Father’s Day

I could be coming home to a home with my daughters scrambling for a hug or a kiss, or my wife smiling with promises of a delicious dinner waiting at the table. It’s what fathers, stereotyped providers that we are, were led to believe, the whole happy family trip our teachers and catechist seem to have hammered into our innocent minds back then – the unmoving, immovable, strong pillar that keeps the house standing through fire and rain. Well, maybe not fire, but rain, flood and storms.

The rock.

The superhero.

Instead, I open the door into my third floor apartment, what nowadays get categorized as studio-type, dark, with a hint of stale cigarette smoke, leftover clothes from the weekend washing that didn’t make it to the estimated time and detergent considerations, and here I am, 400 kilometers from my wife and daughters, renting space, no one to welcome me home but a small mouse stealing bits and morsels from my trash bin.

The things we endure to make a living.

Postscript on Father's Day

Most of the time I spent thinking is when I come back to this matchbox of mine, after I put the water to boil, and linger by the kitchen sink while I read the days text messages on my mobile phone. But I had to smile, from the greetings my three angels sent, greeting me Happy Father’s Day last Sunday.

I am a father.

But how can that be? How can I be a father to my daughters if  my works keeps me in the city, and they are growing, fast and furious, beautiful and intelligent, while I’m away. How can I be a husband  when I don’t get to kiss them goodnight? Is that what a father has come to? Earning barely enough to pay for the bills, for new shoes, school supplies, food on the table. This is very much like going abroad and just work till my back breaks so I can send some home.

Is this what a father is supposed to be?

I never knew my father. That is, literally I don’t know him. Oh. I know his name and how my mother and father met, and why I have this music bug ringing in my ear. But that is all. I often look at his portrait when I was young, a tall, handsome man in starched white uniform, holding a trombone. I may even imagined him as Rogelio Dela Rosa, suave in his slick, swept back hair with a cowlick neatly dangling on his forehead, carving and shaping wooden blocks into jumping horses and “last suppers”, madonna and child, football figures and trophies. I secretly thought, well maybe my dad is that good-looking, maybe also had girls swooning, you know, stuff you thought up as a teenager.

Mythos. Stories. Maybe even fiction.

But my father died of  liver cirrhosis when I was two years old, hence what I know about him is really just third hand information, from my brothers, from my mother, from relatives. I have never seen him in the full light of day. Never spent some time playing around with the trombone. We have never had an argument. He never had the chance of hitting me low on the gut If I ever did something that might have roused his anger. I will never know how he would have handled any of the bad things I’ve done, the triumph of having been to the  provincial meet at Quiz Bee, or maybe we could have shared a beer or two for some man to man talk.

I’m chasing a ghost.

I do not, for the life of me, know what or how it is to be a father. I do not know my father.

No behavioral pattern to follow. No discipline measures to emulate. Nothing to copy.

Sipping my coffee, I often wondered what could be if my Ama and Ina were still alive today. I could use  some thoughts on raising a family. Not that I’m bungling all the time, but sure could use some  info. Of course, I could be entirely off the mark. An uncle once hinted that he knew my father to be short of temper. Maybe that liver gave out because, well, usually it was from too much alcohol.

Too many maybes. Too many nevers. A whole lot of  guessing.

And as I try to relax a bit and sit in front of my laptop, I’m still guessing at what to do next. Draw some more? Maybe. Write? Guess so.  Will it rain hard tomorrow? Hope the kids get to school dry and on time. Will I find some quick solution to this financial rut I’m in? I hope so.

But then again, when I feel a bit unnerved by what’s happening, there’s this vestigial hand that often slaps me sober and asks –

‘What would Father do?”

Dirty Laundry

I’m back to washing my own clothes again. I don’t know why I got the idea that paying someone to do my laundry is going to give me more time to do other things. Sure, some people think it’s more convenient to just go to a laundry shop and bring that bulk of dirty clothes and weigh ’em up and pay for the services. Sounds convenient, I know. But along the lines, I realized I won’t include my underwear in that lot. No sir, I will not let other people see the skid marks and stains that may or may not be present , but you can never tell. There are times I am such a slob I may have worn the same pair of briefs a couple of times. You aware of the Side A and Side B mythos? Ask a college student from Recto and you’ll get an idea.

So yesterday I woke up and just  looked at the pile of tees, denim shorts, jeans and socks on my one laundry basket and asked myself, how did I let this molehill get so big, the clothes are spilling and the basket is bulging. After much thought, and two mugs off coffee, and after checking if the water will be available for the rest of the day (I am renting a matchbox of an apartment on the third floor, no water pumps, you get the idea, and yes it is Quezon City)  I began with the whites.

Always start your washing with the whites.

The entire procedure is a combination of science and tradition, handed down from generation to generation. My mother, bless her soul, nearly fainted the first time she saw me attempting to wash my own clothes back in high school. Not of shock, but out of sheer, ecstatic laughter at what I was doing wrong then. You must understand, my mother was a gentle soul, but when it comes to household chores, no one comes close to being a stickler for details. And so I learned the intimacies, the methods, soaking really dirty clothes overnight, using your hands instead of a brush, arranging some on a flat surface for the sun to do its work on tough stains. Continue reading

48 Hours and 3 Meters of Water

I looked back and there it was, six years ago. Things change. but then, nothing really changes. Just look at all of that water. The only difference is, when we were in college, we endured floods like it was part of our education, not some hardship. And still the seasonal flooding of Metro Manila never fails. Even if the leadership changes from time to time, or promises of plans to eradicate the liquid menace every campaign trail holds, nothing has changed.

#whatsthepoint

August 7

Earlier this week, after that incident with the taxi, Filipinos braved a somewhat familiar situation: The overflowing creeks and sewers from the deluge of water from the heavens. Once again we got stumped by the sheer stupidity of not taking an umbrella to work ( mine was borrowed and never returned, and I liked that umbrella) and joined the throng of humans and rats trying to stay dry, which is futile, considering the amount of rain that poured.

August 8

Come morning, lookie-looky, everything’s just like a scene from Frank Herbert‘s  The Lazarus Effect, and my thoughts return to my comfy bed and and some hot soup. But we all have to work so, banish the thought and put on that jacket.

View original post 178 more words