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HIGH BLOOD

In our hearts and memories

05:04 AM November 01, 2017

Our departed loved ones — our parents, specially — do not fade from memory as time passes. They were our family. They made us. They loved us. They nurtured us. They took us by the hand on the road of life. Who, what, can be more important than that?

There was a sparkle in Inay’s eyes that couldn’t be hidden as she lovingly sewed neat dresses and smart shirts for our birthdays. Tiyo Doming, my mother’s only brother, glanced admiringly at the hardly noticed stitches from her hands as she mended his uniform. He was most grateful to her who had underwritten his education in great part.

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To add color to our old, pallid terrace, Inay grew veritable vineyards of bougainvillea and grapes; she tended to our vegetable garden so that it yielded bounties at sunset, as light as waving her magic green thumb at the season.

Tatay, my father, was in awe of Inay’s economy, too. She stood for our daily needs by earning her keep, keeping the store, and baking rice cakes and native delicacies that sat well with the neighborhood’s demanding palates.

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For sudden expenses, Inay tapped her savings in her coconut-shell piggy bank and the premium of our modest coconut farm, while Tatay spread his helping hands to those in need at any given time and place. He engaged in commerce to earn more than in teaching.

On the weekends, Tatay had “Pilipino Komiks” for me and batteries for our Avegon radio, the prized possession in the 1960s (prominent among affluent homes’ treasures was a 30-inch black-and-white TV set). For us all, he had freshly caught fish laid delectable from Inay’s kitchen on our dining table. We children felt warmth and kinship as Inay and Tatay welcomed everyone to dine with us at any supping hour.

In college, Tiya Azon, a former University of the Philippines (and New Jersey) librarian, backed my studies at the University of Santo Tomas, which I liked over liberal UP Los Baños. I learned to separate the serious from the frivolous, owing to our balanced trade and spiritual drills in class. I wrote articles for the UST Varsitarian and other publications, which Tatay showed off to his friends.

‘Twas most unexpected that after a series of hard-hitting write-ups I did on Juan Ponce Enrile, I received a letter from him offering me work. I put it down, to calm Inay’s jitters over the Army’s then notoriety to capture and torture. The truth that Inay and Tatay never talked ill of or slighted anyone made me proud, while there, to my shame, was the military’s propensity to bear false witness.

Tatay chimed in when my friends and I joined street demonstrations, incensed at how dictator-plunderer Ferdinand Marcos wracked and ruined our nation. Tatay said, “Ninoy’s faith that ‘the Filipino is worth dying for’ set on fire our slack temper of nationalism and pride, as Rizal’s martyrdom goaded Filipinos to rise in arms against the colonial Spaniards.”

My parents also took in good part my lifework to teach. Inay was pleased when I never gave up teaching the young “deaf-to-values” students at Central Texas College. Tatay patted me on the back, when my students in Batangas gave me outstanding marks.

They thanked God more for His graces on Willy’s auspicious politics, Leopoldo’s stint in the US Navy, Pedro’s family in Canada, Dante’s kids in Italy, Conchita’s son in Spain, Antonino’s executive daughters, and Ate Ana’s guidance overall. Our shared comforts fell short of Inay and Tatay’s tender hands and hearts for all of us.

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Every time, I bid heaven to take into its bosom Kuya Antonino, Pedro, Felipe, Ate Remedios, Dionisia, Leonilo, Emel, Inay Felisa and Tatay Atanacio.

To believe that our dear ones depart our minds when God embraces them in His kingdom is to be irreverent. They are nourished evermore in our hearts and our memories…

* * *

Pit M. Maliksi, 64, is Most Outstanding Professor of PUP-Sto. Tomas, Batangas, of which he is the municipal librarian, and an alumnus of UST and Central Texas College.

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