Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I would like to tell to you a story about my father. Since I was a child, he had been telling me about his past, his childhood, adventures, and dreams in life as a young boy.

Long ago, years after world war two, he was born from strict, not so rich, and smoke-loving parents Gonzalo and Mercedes in an almost remote, mountainous town of Dio Duran. As the eldest son, he helped his parents with his best, from household chores to implementing codes of conduct towards his younger siblings, and to their rice fields, despite the fact that he was not much close to his older relatives, especially his paternal grandfather named Carlos. Because of his tireless effort, his parents granted him an elementary education. He was so happy for this.

The school was kilometers away from their town and he walked on foot, crossing woods, hills, and streams. And he said to himself, "This place won't fit my dreams." He studied hard, read books at night, and still helped his parents on the rice field. Sometimes, during weekends, he and his friends would go to the waterfalls to waterfalls in the middle of the woods. One time, suddenly, one of his friends disappeared. They searched for him but they couldn't find him. They reported this incident to their neighbors and started to look for him for weeks. Weeks later, they found him on the banks of the waterfalls where they bathed. The boy couldn't speak. They tried to ask him what happened, but he just stared blankly.Fortunately, after few days, he was now able to speak a little, but he can't remember what happened to him before he was found.

From that day, father and his friends only went to the falls seldom. Some say that he was abducted by spirits, and, upon returning him, they erased his memories.

Quite soon, he finished his studies. He walked on school rain or shine. And if it is raining,he would carry his sandals and walk barefoot. One afternoon, he was caught in a thunderstorm on his way home. He was a bit afraid so he hid under a tree beyond a field. He almost felt safe when he heard an explosion behind the tree he was hiding with. He realized that the tree next to him was struck by a lightning. My father quickly ran away from it until he reached the town cemetery. The rain poured harder so he decided to hide in one of the vacant niches (an apartment type) there. He told me that it was a bit cool and quiet inside so he fell asleep. Later, he woke up and he saw the rain had stopped but the sky was growing darker. He quickly packed his things and went straight home. He was worried not about the spooky things at the cemetery but at my grandma's deadly lashes.

My father's village was shrouded in mystery. Legends and superstitions were everywhere. But my father doubted them sometimes. When he went to the woods, setting up traps for birds and wild animals (where he once caught an unpalatable wildcat), he heard unusual of a bird somewhere. Just for fun, he imitated its voice, and the howl became louder and closer. He didn't hesitate to run. My father always heard stories about people being abducted by creatures, strange apparitions, witch doctors and religious cults living on secluded lairs. This time, father knew it was real. There was a tale about a Japanese soldier on top of a coconut tree. My grandpa said that that soldier thought the war was still ongoing. He had nothing to eat or drink there but the coconut seeds. Children would throw stones at him just for fun, and most of the people almost ignored the soldier.

There are actually true stories aside from what my father told me. In a remote Philippine island of Lubang. The soldier was
Hiroo Onada. He was sent by Japanese government to conduct guerrilla warfare during the second world war. Unfortunately, he was never officially told the war had ended. And he continued his work, hid from the jungle until he finally emerged and surrendered on 1972. Back to my father, he met an elderly man who usually grouped the children in a cottage and tell some stories about ghosts and malevolent creatures. The elderly man wanted to scare the children. After that, since he finished his stories almost midnight, he usually requested my father to take him home which was kilometers away. In exchange, he gave my father a kilo of rice.

By the time his elementary graduation was approaching, nobody among his siblings, nor his parents had time to attend his graduation. But it's okay to him because that was the date he will leave the village by train and head for the city. He brought nothing except his school uniform. There, in the city, he learned how to make money. He worked as a helper on a construction site where he performed dangerous tasks ordered by the workers. He worked there until he was found by his Aunt Carmela. She helped him finish his studies where my father wrote a poem about students, and had it published in a well-known magazine during that time.

No comments: