of images and stories

Posted: October 15, 2007 in All and Sundry, Musings

As a child, I was always surrounded with images and stories. Despite facing the everyday reality of constant bullying by neighborhood kids because we had Chinese sounding surnames yet we were (un-stereotypically) poor, my siblings and I never felt alone and bitter because we always had stories and images to entertain us.

Crammed like sardines in a small room of an apartment, we would listen to our mother tell us stories of the Martial Law years masked as bedtime tales. She has an innate talent for storytelling, somebody I would later associate with the father in the movie “Big Fish.” Every night  she would tell us tales peopled by villains like the tall beautiful woman from Leyte called the “First Lady” who was rumored to have legs covered with fish scales and who was married to this powerful man who always wore a Crispa shirt. These characters would figure in cautionary tales of soldiers looking for children to offer to the river beneath San Juanico Bridge. Sometimes, they would end up in a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or even in Rumpelstiltskin. In these stories, my mother was often the protagonist, the “rebel” who had to endure days of fasting in a prison cell or planning schemes to stage another last battle much like the “Cry of Balintawak.” Because she has a good voice, her adventures were often interrupted with a song and her tales she told in flamboyant theatrical fashion.

On mornings, my mother would teach us how to draw and paint with watercolors, sing a perfect note, or speak our thoughts fluently without stutters. There was always a schedule for reading a book and writing about our impressions of it. There were times when she would ask us what we read by the end of the day. This habit she picked up when she found out my sister Jaye and I had taken ourselves to sneaking in the school library to read books. She was so happy that she encouraged us to write our own stories and do our own illustrations. While I never took to singing a perfect note, I enthusiastically did all the illustrations for my own stories and my sister Jaye’s storybook.

All these stories we adapted as scripts for Sunday presentations with our parents as our sole audience. My brother Art would execute my choreography, while I was in charged of the technical aspect and the set design of the show. My sister Jaye being a singer would sing her compositions. These shows went every Sunday of our childhood days until we became too old to make a fool of ourselves.

Politics and sports were also the two things that governed my life. From elementary to college, I used to wake up to hearing my mother talking or arguing with Bombo Radyo commentators over a current political and economic issue. Family dinners are more often than not, punctuated with discussions on the latest political debate where my parents would egg us to say something intelligent. “It is not good to be a fencesitter. You must have an opinion,” my mother would often tell us. She was an activist and wanted us to be activists in our own way too.

It was my mother who first introduced to me the concept of the women’s movement. She used to bring me to meetings with women’s organizations when I was as young as 9 years old. I can still remember the day when I wore a yellow dress and marched with my pregnant mother in the streets in support for Cory Aquino. My relatives thought I was too young to be in the streets. But my mother made sure I understood what we were doing.
Later when she became a city councilor, I would assist her in her outreach projects and training with women and children in baranggays. I was encouraged by my mother’s efforts in the local government that I joined the YWCA chapter in our elementary school and became president of the club.

Sometimes, between conversations about politics at dinnertime, my father would ask us about the latest in our lives as athletes. The discipline one can learn from involvement in sports was one of my father’s legacy to us. He encouraged us to join the swimming varsity team and praised us when we won in regional and national meets. He also scolded us when we were late for or missed practice….(to be continued)

*just posting this here for a while lest i forget who i am

  1. ella says:

    yehey, mam clairey aabangan ko yung continuation! 😀

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