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APO ON THE WALL

by Bj Patino

Theres this mans photo on the wall


Of my fathers office at home, you
Know, where father brings his work,
Where he doesnt look strange
Still wearing his green uniform
And colored breast plates, where,
To prove that he works hard, he
Also brought a photo of his boss
Whom he calls Apo, so Apo could
You know, hang around on the wall
Behind him and look over his shoulders
To make sure hes snappy and all.
Father snapped at me once, caught me
Sneaking around his office at home
Looking at the stuff on his wall- handguns,
Plaques, a sword, medals a rifle-
Told me that was no place for a boy
Only men, when he didnt really
Have to tell me because, you know,
That photo of Apo on the wall was already
Looking at me around,
His eyes following me like he was
That scary Jesus in the hallway, saying
I know what youre doing.
INSIGHTS
For us, the poem clearly takes us back to the time when the Martial Law still exists. It reflects the fear of the people because of their dictator. It is a
poem which talks about a certain situation that depicts the experiences of people during that time particularly a child. The poem was written in
the point of view of a child. It is kind of strange compared to other write-ups I have read. I like the poem because it gives me an understanding of
one of the many sides of Martial Law. This side refers to a childs perspective about Martial Law. A childs perspective is way different from the
adults. The childs perspective on Martial Law is that, people are disciplined. Another one is that, Martial Law is a scary time because of Marcos
himself and the people who are in authority.
The poem has reminded us the importance of looking at the past and applying what the lessons of the past in the present. The past is in the past but
it must be looked back in order to have a better present to avoid another mistakes and to repeat the victories in the past.

REFLECTION OF REALITY
As Ive read the poem, I like the perspective of the personas father because it shows that the father is proving to Apo even when hes not around
that he respects and fears him.
When you reflect it into reality among the situations of teenagers nowadays, we can observe that when our fathers look at us eye to eye, we easily
get scared for some reason, and we tend to follow them to avoid being reprimanded. And this poem also has a relation to the Martial Law.
--- Hannah Bebs Aloot ---

* * *

HOME OF THE ASHFALL (Pampanga)


John Jack Wigley
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo was recorded as the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century, and
the largest eruption populated area. Ash fall, which formed a weighty, raindrenched snowlike film, affected almost the
entire island of luzon, and even reached the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Vietnam. It was firther aggravated
because of Thypoon Yunya, which brought with it heavy rains and strong winds. To the Kampampagans and to the people
affected by this tradegy, it would serve as a testament to their irrepressible attribute of rising about their plight and
predicament.
I was no longer living in Angeles City when Mt. Pinatubo erupted on June 15, 1991. I was promoted from being a
crew member at Pizza Hut Dau to management trainee at Pizza Hut Harrison Plaza in December 1990. After being a service
crew member for more than four years abd graduating from college in 1989, I had to say goodbye to my
home time where I lived for more than two decades. It was my first time to work in manila. I asked the assistance of Ed
Calupitan, a fellow Pizza Hut Dau crew member now based in Manila, to help me find a place to stay. He was living in a
twobedroom apartment and gladly offered the other room to me.
Weeks before the eruptrion, I read several news and warnings about Mt. Piantubo. Frankly, I never knew that
there was a volcano in the Zambales mountain range. Nobody among my Kapampangan friends did. I guess we were all
clueless about the impending danger this would cause in our lives. Later on Later on, I realized that the summit of the
volcano was justy fortheen kilometers away from the extent of Clark Air Base. I thought that volcanoes were conspicuous
mountains and had fiercelooking summits like Maycns and Haicons. But this one was deeply hidden among the several
mountains called the Cabusilan mountains of Zambales. How a volcano had managed to hide among the mountains and
be covered with a defense forest was something I couldnt comprehed. If it was bound the erupt, I guess it would be just
like a friecracker.
Hell, I thought that if there was a mountain near us which I imagined would erupt anytime, it would be the Arayat,
which was located at the heartof Pampanga, with its open mouth and forbidding counterance. Not this obscure mountain
whose native inhabitans, the Aetas, never even knew about, I paid no more attention to warnings.
I had only been in Manila for barely six months and was enjoying my newfound independence. I would sometimes
go to Angeles City to see Mother during days off, which usually fell on a weekday, since management people did not have
the luxury of the dayoff during weekends because it was the time when more people would go out and eat.Pizza Hut
Harizon Plaza wasa high volume unit.
That fateful day, after my opening shift, I went to see a film. I t was Hihintayin Kita sa Langit a film adaction of
Brontes Wuthering Heights directed by Carlitos Siguion Reyna. The film starred erstwhile loovers played by Richard
Gomez and Dawn Zulueta. I was feeling all mushy and melodramatic after watching the film when, once outside, I saw
parked cars covered with what seemed like a whitisngray banket. And so were the streets. Is it finally showing in Manila?
I thought, as I felt some of the particles in my hand and smudge my shirt. When I looked closely and touched them, they
were grainy. I t was like ash from an ashtray.
Sa kabila ng aking paghingal dahil sa pagod at takot , sabi ko: Nanang ,ay nabangga! Parang si... Parang si... Hindi
na nagurirat pa si Nanang kung sino ang nabangga. Tumakbong pumnta siya sa kalsada at nakalimutan pang magsuot ng
ng tsinelas o kahit man lang sana pinuyod ang medyo mahabang nagtitikwasang buhok. Halos patakbo rin akong sumunod
kay Nanang kahit sobrang kaba ko na.
Ang gagong si Kalbo na lang sana! Sumpa ko sa loobloob ko na ang nasa isip ko, ang CAFGU na nambugbog at
muntik bumaril kay Angkel Mulong na kapatid din ni Nanang at sinundan ni Angkel Ceferinc. Mabait kasi si Angkel Mulong
dahil kung manghuhuli siya ng isda sa Calacungan, nagiiwan siya ng gustong gusto kong sugpo na sinlaki ng hinlalaki ng
paaat samaral na sinlaki ng palad ni Tatang.
Pero nagulat akopagkarating ni Nanang sa may umpukan, kaagad siyang umiyak ng pasigaw. Inaawat nila dahil
sobra ang kanyang pagwawala. Wala akong ibang naintindihan sa mga isinisigaw niya kundiang magkakasunod na Diyos
ko po! Diyos ko po!
Nanghilakbot ako. Nagtayuan ang mga balahibo ko.
Siguradong hindi si Boying ang nabangga higanon ang magging asta ni Nanang kung ang
kaibigan ko dahil malayong pamangkin na siya ng
nanay ko.
E sino? Si Tatang kaya? Pero alam kong hindi, dahil sa mga ganoong oras na malambot pa ang sikat ng araw,
katatapos lamang dalhin sa ilog ang kalabaw niya; at hindi dadaan sa national highway dahil naibenta niya ang kaisaisang
bisikleta niya at ipinambayad sa klinika at sa mga gamot ni Nanang na nakaapak ng bubog noong hinahabol nya
ang inahin na kinatay namin noong kaarawan ni Tatang na ginawa nilang araw ng pagaalala sa mga
kaluluwa ng mga namatay naming mahal sa buhay. Hindi rin naman ang mga kapatid ko dahil nasa silangan ang
elementaryang pinapasukan nila sa Grade Six at Grade One. Nagtaka ko kung sino dahilganoon na lamang magwala si
Nanang. At para akong nakasagi ng espiritu dahil napakaliwanag sa aking pandinig ang tila nagmula sa ilalim ng lupang
pangahoy ni Nanang: Kapatid ko! Ato! Kapatid ko! Ato! Kahit noong nailibing na si Angkel Ato, madalas akong
nahihintakutan kung maaalala ko ang malagim na pag iyak ni Nanang. Magaalas dos nang magparada ang karo ng
punenarya sa rough road ng barangay sa harapan ng lote ng maganak nina Nanangna nasa gitna sa pookng mga Palor.
Sotelo nag apelyido ng ama nina Nanang na magmula sa Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, at nakapag asawang galing sa angkan
ng mga Palor ng Villa. Halohalong mga iyak ang naghatid sa makislap na puting kabaong ni Angkel Ato sa sala ng bahay
nila. Subalit mas lumutang na naman ang pagiyak ni Nanang at inawat pa ni Tatang dahil hinihila na ng bakuran nina Angkel
Ato, sa ililim ng matandang mangga. Agad ding pinatabi muna ni Angkel Mulong ang mga nakapalibot sa tatlong mesa na
naglalaro ng tongits at pusoy dos. Nauna pa nga sila kaysa sa bangkay (Hanggang ngayon pugad ng mga mahihilig maglaro
ng baraha ang baryo namin.) Saka na yan atupagin pag naiayos na! medyo mabigat ang tenor ng boses ni Angkel Mulong
nang di kaagad tumabi ang mga kalalakihang nagsusugal na di ko alam kung taga saan.
Di ko noon maintindihan na pagkatapos maiakyat ang kabaong, at pagkatapos makipagusap ang mga tagapunenarya kay
Nanang, kaagad din nilang binuksan ang kabaong, tinakpan ng putting kumot saka hinango ang bangkay. I saw farther
down the riverbank that people were lining up to cross the river by stepping on coconut trunks and wooden poles attached
from one end to the other. The gaunt shirtless bot who was juggling coins and walking to and fro shouted. Pesus mu.
Deng bisang lumakad papunta Angeles, keni na kayo bang ali la mabasa deng bitis yu. For one peso, take this trail and your
feet wot get wet in the river. I was about to fall in line but i realized that there as a long queue of people already as far
as the bend , waiting for their turn to get actions the river. It would take me forever to get to other side if I fall in line, I
thought. I talked to the person behind me. Malalam ya pu ing daanum. Is the water deep?
Tabalu. Bala mu, malalam pin. I dont know. Its deep. I guess, the immediately rejoined. Lawen me itang tau angga ne
keng atyan na. Look at the guy crossing. The waters up to his tummy, he said, pointing to the man. It was deep, I
contempalted. I didnt want to take the risk of getting my clothes wet. I was also thinking that perhaps the water that
flowed down the river was contaminated because of the volcanic ash and the sulfuric content of the water. Just the I saw
about four barkers holding wooden chairs, inviting people to cross the river on these chairs. They explained that people
would be sitting on the chair and thr barkers themselves woul carry the chair to the other side for a fee of ten pesos.
Despite the horrible sight before me, I forced a smile I was thinking about how indestructible humans are. These people
were still struggling to live even if catastrophes like thypoons and volcanic eruptions had truck. Catastrphes constantly
plagued their lives. I felt deep admiration for them. One barker thought my smie was an indication that I wanted to ride
in the chair. Bisa kang sake. Would you like to take a ride? he asked. I was meaning to say no but I was speechless, still
talking everything in. Besides, I wanted to see my family. I nooded my head. Koya, padagdag naku mu keka ne. Kasi lupa
kang mabayat. Ill charge you extra. You look heavy the barker smiled fully; revealing he had no teeth. For a moment, i
wanted to pull his hair and drown his head in the river. This impertinent one. I thought. He had to subtly insult my chubby
body. But I surmised that he meant well. It was not going to be easy carrying me to the other side of the river. I just simply
agreed. I sat on the chair ad put the bag on my lap. The barker clasped an improvised rope seatbelt from one and tp the
other. Yeah, like I would experience a terrible accident by forgetting to use this seatbelt, I thought sarcastically. Just hold
the chairs handles, sir its good that you came this early. Potang gatganapun, ali tana makapunta karin uling malalam ne
ing danum. Later in the afternoon, we wont be able to cross because of the deep water, the barker enthusiastically said.
As he started lifting the chair, I felt that I was sliding down. The fabric of my pants was slippery Sagull, Kalakalale. Wait,
carefull Mananabu ku! Im falling, I cried. The barker haited for a second tand adjusted me weight on his arms. I wiggle
momentarily and after a while, I instructed him to carry on. He looked at me and then smiled blissgully. First, it was my
body weight. Then I sensed that he was mocking me because he thought iI was a sissy. I turned back to the other barkers,
and they were all carrying passengers, all of whom were women. One was carrying an older woman with cane. I saw the
men and they were braving the river. Oh dear, now all these barkers would regard me as the only man in the Abacan river
who did not want to get his feet wet. Why hadnt I decided early on to just cross the river? Now, I felt guilty that I had to
subject this cadaverlooking barker to such pain and suffering by carrying me, the queen all of my 160 pound royalty for
a measly 15pesos. I shock my head of all this guilt away. Well, too bad, I thought I had the money which you hadnt, Sorry.
Even in ancient times, slaves laboriously carried their obese masters. History repeats itself, I tried to reason out in my
thoughts. When we got to the middle of the river, I closed my eyes, not because I was afraid of the water , but because I
was worried that the barker wouldnt be able to cross it, with me as his burden. The water was already kneedeep. He
wasnt even wearing any footwear . What if he slid doen because he stepped on a rock or a hole under the water? But he
was very much focused. His steps were show but cautious. I wanted to talk to him so that my mind would be distracted
from worrying , but i felt that he needed full concentration to get us through. I just held on the hand rest of the chair. I
imagined that poor people have always exhibited their resilence this way. When calamities happen, they are the first ones
to suffer the initial blows. Yet, they survive and eventually thrive. They just need to go slow and sure. The rich and the
middle class are alienated from this kind of survival stratedgy. That is why much is lost in them when things go down. But
not the poor; they are like fungi.
They dont die. They morph after a catastrophe. We got to the order end of the river. The barker found a coarse spot
where he could put down the chair. He was painting heavily, beads of sweat dripping from his temples. I thanked him and
handed a twenty peso bill. He looked grateful and smiled. I was waiting for him to utter an insulting remark so I
could give him the sermon of the day. But he didnt. Dacal a salamat pu koya. Thank you . Pantunan mu naku potang bisa
nakang mibalik keng sumangid. Hatad daka. Just look for me when you want to cross the river going back. Ill take you.
He said as he nooded his head approvingly, once again showing his toothless mouth Sige pu, salamat mu rin, I replied.
There was hardly any roving jeepney at all when I climbed up the gully. Tricycles were waiting at the corner, but I chose
not to ride in one. I decided to walk. The house was only about five minutes away anyway.
As I was walking, I thought about what the future would hold for this city I loved. Kapampangans are known to be a proud
people. I only wished that they would get past all this soon. I was hoping that I would also see my family complete and in
the best of health. My steps got quicker. I started to run. At the threshold of the house, I saw Mother carrying a bundle of
laundry. When she saw me, she smiled and patted my arm. I was puzzled to see her carrying a load.
Where are you going? I just got here. I was so worried about you. Where is ate and her family, are they okay? I asked.
Mother placed the bundle on the table and tightened it. Theyre all okay, thank God. Im going to Dau to give this to your
ate. What, are you serious? I was shocked by Mothers retort. The Abacan bridge has collapsed, didnt you know? How
are you going to get to Dau? I know that the Abacan bridge is no more, Mother said pensively. Ive been to Dau and
back Twice already. There are still barkers that lift chairs down there in the river, arent there? she looked at
me. I was aghast to hear this from her. You mean you want to go down the river? You are not afraid? Why should I be
afraid? Mother interrupted. Only the old ones are afraid to cross the river. I am not that old. Besides, youre here to
keep me company, right? Ill cook your favorite ginataang kamansi. I was dumbfounded. Mother was unbelievable. Hurry
up! The river gets deeper in the afternoon,Mother shouted Lets go.
* * *
VOICE TAPE
Ariel S. Tabag
Cagayan

Nitong pinakahuling bakasyon ko sa Santa Teresita sa Cagayan, mistulang bumata ako ng labing walong taon dahil
parang bumalik ako sa taon na may nangyari kay Angkel Ato. Noong hinahanap namin ni Nanang ang mga sertipiko ko
bilang Best in Math sa elementarya ay hayskul at nang may maibigay ako sa prinsipal ng pinatuturuan kong public school
sa Cubao para sa karagdagang puntos sa aking kakayahan at nang mapabilis din ang pagakyat ng aking ranggo, siyempre
kasama na ng aking sahod, may nahanap kaming ibang bagay. Sabi ni Nanang, inilagay niya ang mga sertipiko sa isang
bag na manipis na palaoad na may markang LA, ang brand ng sigarilyo ni Tatang noong chainsmoker pa ito. Napuno
na kasi ang dingding ng maliit naming bahay sa mga sertipiko ng napalanunan ko sa mga paligsahan sa pagsusulat.
Itong bag na ito, na isa sa mga pinagpalitan ni Nanang sa mga daandaang pinagbalatan ni Tatang ng sigarilyo niya, ang
binuksan namin. Subalit wala ang mga sertipikoiyon pala, nakarolyo ito sa isa sa mga apat na piraso ng buho na
pinaglagyan ni Nanang ng aming birth certificate tatlo kaming magkakapatid pero apat na tubo dahil inakalang
makakaapat sila ng tatay (dahil sa hirap ng buhay nila, si Tatang ang nakiusap sa kanya para magpaligate
na sa Aparri). Pero nauna naming nakita itong bag na kailaliman ng isang drawer ng aparador na dahil nagkagasgas na sa
kalumaan, inilagay na nila ni Tatang sa nagiisang kuwarto sa ibaba, doon malapit sa kusina, kung saan inilalagay din ang
iba pang gamit ni Tatang gaya ng sprayer, tatlong klase ng itak, panabas, kuribot, ang mga bungkos ng ibat ibang binhi
gaya ng mais, ang inukit niyang tikbalang mula sa puno ng santol (naniniwala akong nakuha niya ang kanyang pagiging
artist sa madalas niyang pagbabasa ng Bannawag), at oo, ang lagpastao ang tass na inipon niyang kopya ng Bannawag
na pinagpatongpatong sa almuhadera. Ibat iba ang laman nitong lumang aparador mga lumang litrato na karamihan ay
ang mga pumanaw na mahal sa buhay nina Nanang, mga lumang damit, babasaging plato na ginagamit lamang tuwing
may bisitang mataas na uri ng tao gaya ng mga politikong bumibili ng boto, ang mga papel namin ng aking mga kapatid
noong nasa elementarya ay hayskul na may markang 100%... Pero ano itong ibang bagay na ito? Ang voice tape na
may markang 4 my one & onli lab ATO na sabi ni Nanangay nakuha niya sa ilalim ng unan ni Angkel Ato na kapatid niyang
sumunod sa kanya, kinahapunan noong araw na nabangga ito, o pagkamatay niya sa umagang iyon ng Pebrero 16, 1992.
Nakabihis na akong papasok sa eskwela katunayan, naroon na ako sa tabi ng kalsada dahil kaharap lamang ng Pook
Tactac, kung saan naroon din ang aming bahay, ang magdadalawampung aktaryang bakuran ng St. Francis Academy na
pinapasukan ko ng hayskul. Nasa second year na ako kaya marahil, malakas ang aking loob kahit madalas akong malate.
Gaya ng oras na iyon na nagpasya akong magkubli sa Indian free na sintangkad na ng mga matatanda sa tabi ng national
highway dahil nagsisimula na ang flag ceremony. Nang bigla na lang may lumagatak sa may kanluran. Parang may
nagsuwagang mga torong kalabaw, mas malakas nga lamang ito ng sampung beses. Pagkaraay nagsisigawan na ang mga
estyudyante at iba pang mga tao marahil ay pupunta ang mga ito sa palengke dahil Martes noon, araw ng palengke sa
bayan nagmamadali silang pumnta sa harapan ng bakante at matubig na lote kung saan kami nangunguha ng
kangkong. Nag umpukan sila doon sa likuran ng isang bus na Manny Trans.
Nakupo! Nabangga na! Buong lakas na sigaw ng di ko maalala kung sinong matandang babae, na ang duda koy si
Maam Usita dahil katabi lang nila ang bakanteng lote at nakapagretiro na rin kaya napapansin na niya ang lahat ng
nangyayari sa paligid niya, nakita man o nababalitaan lamang niya. Maliban sa lagi kong naaalala ang tinig niya dahil
madalas niya akong pagalitan noong titser ko pa sa Grade Three.
Patay na! Patay na! Kinutuban ako. Nabaghan ako dahil noon lamang ako nakadarna ng ganoong kutob kakaiba
dahil di ko man lang ito naramdaman kahit madalas umiyak si Nanang noong nadukot ng mga NPA si Angkel Ceferino, na
kapatid din niya na sinundan ng bunso (bale panglima sa anim na magkakapatid); o noong iniyakan ni Tatang ang kaisa
isang kalabaw niya na anlunod sa bagyo noong 1989. Nakupo! Si Boying yata na kaibigan ko!

* * *
Five Brothers, One Mother by EXIE ABOLA
Manila

The Marikina house wasnt finished yet, but with an ultimatum hanging over our heads, we had no choice but to move
in. Just how unfinished the house was became bruisingly clear on our first night. There was no electricity yet, and the
windows didnt have screens. There were mosquitoes. I couldnt sleep the whole night. My sister slept on a cot out in
the upstairs hall instead of her room downstairs, maybe because it was cooler here. Every so often she would toss and
turn, waving bugs away with half-asleep hands. I sat beside her and fanned her. She had work the next day. In the
morning someone went out and bought boxes and boxes of Katol.

Work on the house would continue, but it remains unfinished eight years later. All the interiors, after a few years of
intermittent work, are done. But the exterior remains unpainted, still the same cement gray as the day we moved in,
though grimier now. Marikinas factories arent too far away. The garden remains ungreened; earth, stones, weeds, and
leaves are where I suppose bermuda grass will be put down someday.

In my eyes the Marikina house is an attempt to return to the successful Greenmeadows plan, but with more modest
means at ones disposal. The living room of the Cinco Hermanos house features much of the same furniture, a similar
look. The sofa and wing chairs seem at ease again. My mothers growing collection of angel figurines is the new twist.
But there is less space in this room, as in most of the rooms in the Marikina house, since it is a smaller house on a
smaller lot.

The kitchen is carefully planned, as was the earlier one, the cooking and eating areas clearly demarcated. There is again
a formal dining room, and the new one seems to have been designed for the long narra dining table, a lovely Designs
Ligna item, perhaps the one most beautiful piece of furniture we have, bought on the cheap from relatives leaving the
country in a hurry when we still were on Heron Street.

Upstairs are the boys rooms. The beds were the ones custom-made for the Greenmeadows house, the same ones wed
slept in since then. It was a loft or an attic, my mother insisted, which is why the stairs had such narrow steps. But this
"attic," curiously enough, had two big bedrooms as well as a wide hall. To those of us who actually inhabited these
rooms, the curiosity was an annoyance. There was no bathroom, so if you had to go to the toilet in the middle of the
night you had to go down the stairs and come back up again, by which time you were at least half awake.
Perhaps there was no difference between the two houses more basic, and more dramatic, than their location. This part
of Marikina is not quite the same as the swanky part of Ortigas we inhabited for five years. Cinco Hermanos is split by a
road, cutting it into two phases, that leads on one end to Major Santos Dizon, which connects Marcos Highway with
Katipunan Avenue. The other end of the road stops at Olandes, a dense community of pedicabs, narrow streets, and
poverty. The noise from the tricycles, the chattering on the street, the trucks hurtling down Marcos Highway in the
distance, the blaring of the loudspeaker at our street corner put there by eager-beaver baranggay officials dispels any
illusions one might harbor of having returned to a state of bliss.

The first floor is designed to create a clear separation between the family and guest areas, so one can entertain
outsiders without disturbing the houses inhabitants. This principle owes probably more to my mother than my father.
After all, she is the entertainer, the host. The living room, patio, and dining room the places where guests might be
entertained must be clean and neat, things in their places. She keeps the kitchen achingly well-organized, which is why
there are lots of cabinets and a deep cupboard.

And she put them to good use. According to Titus, the fourth, who accompanied her recently while grocery shopping,
she buys groceries as if all of us still lived there. I dont recall the cupboard ever being empty.

That became her way of mothering. As we grew older and drifted farther and farther away from her grasp, defining our
own lives outside of the house, my mother must have felt that she was losing us to friends, jobs, loves forces beyond
her control. Perhaps she figured that food, and a clean place to stay, was what we still needed from her. So over the last
ten years or so she has become more involved in her cooking, more attentive, better. She also became fussier about
meals, asking if youll be there for lunch or dinner so she knows how much to cook, reprimanding the one who didnt call
to say he wasnt coming home for dinner after all, or the person who brought guests home without warning. There was
more to it than just knowing how much rice to cook.

I know it gives her joy to have relatives over during the regular Christmas and New Year get-togethers, which have been
held in our house for the past half-decade or so. She brings out the special dishes, cups and saucers, platters, glasses,
bowls, coasters and doilies she herself crocheted. Perhaps I understand better why her Christmas decor has grown more
lavish each year.

After seeing off the last guests after the most recent gathering, she sighed, "Ang kalat ng bahay!" I didnt see her face,
but I could hear her smiling. My father replied, "Masaya ka naman." It wasnt a secret.

Sundays we come over to the house, everyone who has moved out, and have lunch together. Sunday lunches were
always differently esteemed in our household. Now that some of us have left, I sense that my siblings try harder than
they ever did to be there. I know I do. I try not to deprive my mother the chance to do what she does best.

Epilogue
The dispersal began in the mid-eighties when Bombit went to the United States and never returned. He left some
months after wed moved to Greenmeadows, yet I have no memory of him there. (In memory there are no things, only
worlds. Things never exist by themselves, but only with and against other things, between backgrounds and
foregrounds, swimming in contexts. This is how we can remember that something is out of place, like a fancy wing chair
in the master bedroom of a worn-down house, like an eldest brother in a house he left behind.)

I remember him only in Ledesma, the rough playmate, sometimes the bully who held us in his thrall, who would jump on
cockroaches with glee, who would take alarm clocks apart and not put them back together. I remember him in the green
station wagon, pillows in the back, disappearing for days visiting his girlfriend in Manila. In the US they would get
married, have two kids, and divorce messily. The guest room in the Marikina house is for him, for his hoped-for return.

The exodus resumed in 1996 when I got married and moved to Diliman. Pixie, my only sister, the fifth child, married in
December 1999 and moved to Blue Ridge. Titus, the fourth, transferred to a Makati apartment with his wife after their
wedding this past March. Raul, the second, and Mikko, the sixth and youngest, are left with my parents.

My father is what most people would call a man of few words. He was a father of few words as well. These past few
years Ive tried to talk to him more and more, which is special because we never did when I was younger. We often talk
about money. I am amazed to learn how little we had in the first place, and I wonder how we could have afforded the
Green meadows house, how much he has lost keeping the company he started afloat, how much he still owes here and
there.

To me it makes more and more sense for him to sell the Marikina house, use some of the money to pay off his debts,
buy a condominium with two or three bedrooms, and live off the interest on what remains, which would still be
substantial. Ive mentioned this to him a few times, and he seems receptive. But I wonder if theres such a thing as a
transfer threshold, dislocation fatigue that accumulates over a lifetime of setting up in one place then moving. By my
count the Cinco Hermanos house is my fathers eighth home. Will he and my mother be too tired, too weary for another
relocation?

A few years ago my father and his brothers and sisters sold their house in San Juan. Built in 1948, it had lasted nearly
half a century, sheltering my grandfather and grandmother and their eight children. They had planned to build a
condominium on the lot, but the real estate bubble of the mid-nineties convinced them that it would be better to just
sell. It was sold.

That was not my fathers first house, though it seemed so to me. Born in 1935, he lived near Pinaglabanan church, then
in 1940 at the corner of M. Paterno and Alfonso XIII, with relatives. In my mind the Paterno house was his first, not just
because I hadnt seen the first two (the first is gone, the second rebuilt). The Paterno house was where his father and
mother lived, and Id always imagined them and their children making do in that structure that weathered the decades.

When we were little, my siblings and cousins, we spent Sundays there. I learned how to ride a bicycle on the long
driveway. We played tennis on a neighbors court after climbing the back wall. In the grassy front yard we played
baseball, and I hit the first homerun in that tiny ballpark. We fished for star apples with long bamboo sticks, picked dewy
santan, got caught in the thorny bougainvillea bushes retrieving errant pingpong balls. The last time I passed by the lot
the house had been torn down.

My father would have been thirteen when he moved into it; he was over sixty when he and his brothers and sisters let it
go. It made sense to sell it, but I wonder if anything was bargained away in the transaction. He had lost his parents years
before. Was losing the house a final orphaning?

Is this the last one? Am I here for good? Or should I keep the boxes and packing tape handy? Houses provided us the
necessary certainties somewhere to come home to where youd find your family, your things, a hot dinner, a bed or a
good couch. Write to me here. Call me at this number. But Ive changed addresses and phone numbers enough times to
know better. Perhaps thats what houses are really about: the fundamental uncertainty of life, the slowly learned fact
that the reference points by which we draw our maps and chart our course are ever shifting, and a lifes cartography is
never quite done.

That isnt necessarily a sad thing. Perhaps the houses are no longer, but somewhere inside me I am still marveling at the
break of day, at the way the moon illuminates the grass, at the way the lives of those Ive lived with have crisscrossed
and intertwined with mine, no matter how tangled up it all sometimes got.

I count my blessings, the ghosts of houses past included.

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