People who touch our lives
By Rudy A. Arizala
On 14th February, we shall be celebrating Valentine´s Day. A day when we remember fondly our love ones. If single, our sweetheart; if married, our partner in life and children; and last but not the least of course, our parents.
This Valentine´s Day allow me to fondly remember my parents through the eyes of two growing up young boys who have no blood relations with our family but somehow have touched their young innocent hearts and perhaps even their lives.
I. NANA CORING (NANA MANANG)
( As remembered by Mr. Daniel Abcede who now works in Riyadh.)
Hereunder is a summary of an email message of 30 January 2007, Mr. Abcede sent me which I took the liberty of editing some words or sentences for the sake of brevity.
It was through your column in the MIF I learned that your mother, Nana Coring, passed away. I remember, a few years ago during my vacation in Infanta, I saw her passing by our house. I commented to my mother (Corazon Abcede) “Mabuti naman at malakas pa si Nana Coring.” (It is good that Nana Coring is still strong despite her age.)
I vividly remember your beloved mother. I was then about 5 years old when I became acquainted with her through my Lola Pae (Rafaela Ramirez Abcede). They were good friends aside from the fact that both were members of the Catholic Women´s League. Almost everybody in Infanta called your mother “Nana Coring”. However, I used to call her “Nana Manang” ( a religious person) and I guess she liked being called that way because every time I called her, “Nana Manang,” she always smiled at me.
Every morning, I always saw her going with my Lola Pae to church and participate in the 6:00 a.m. mass officiated by Fr. Basil. I also remember Nana Coring going to market everyday and I never failed to greet her and make “Mano po” (request for blessings). And she would put her hand on my forehead gently touching it. As she starts to move away, I would call her “Nana Manang!” She would look back at me, wave her hand and smile.
Nana Manang walked with grace, her body straight and head held high. With her left hand, she held her umbrella, while on her right hand she carried a beautiful, round rattan basket. She wore a pair of beautifully carved “bakya” (wooden shoes). One thing I noted also, she walked briskly. After doing her marketing, she used to pass by our house again, her basket already filled with fish, vegetables and fruits. And she never failed to give me some bananas which I accept with joy. I will forever treasure the wonderful memories – about my lola Pae and my “Nana Manang.”
II. MANG BOYONG
(As remembered by Mr. Leo Villeno now residing in the United States.)
The following was the letter of Mr.Villeno published in the Metro Infanta Foundation Journal many year ago when MIF was at its infancy (words in parenthesis supplied):
I was only six years old yesteryears ago in barrio Langas, when one of my parent´s sources of income was ”karitan” or wine-making. I was instructed by my parents that everytime Mang Boyong Arizala, who was a BIR Inspector then, came for a visit, we would have to close the “sumbi” (small room) where alak, tapayan and lupagi (containers with wine) were kept, because if he saw them, Mang Boyong would put tarifa (tax assessment) and we would have to pay multa (tax penalty) thus, lose money.
Mr. Villeno remembers, "One day, I was playing with my younger brother at the playground of Alitas Elementary School when Mang Boyong came and asked: “Indong, nasaan ang tatay mo?” (My little boy, where is your father?”) Before I could reply, my four-year old brother Manny, said: “Nasa lutuan po, nagluluto ng alak” (“He is at the make-shift distillery brewing wine, Sir!”)
Mang Boyong just started laughing and went to our house to tell my mother about his discovery.
The personal letter of Mr. Daniel Abcede published in the MIF Website about “Nana Manang” who happens to be my late mother, made me shed tears as it did when another townmate of ours, Mr. Leo Villeno, many years ago wrote his experience while still a boy about his encounter with my late father. I shed tears because I realized that other children have also fond memories about my parents who must have also touched their lives.
Mr. Abcede in a few words described vividly my late mother – her going to church everyday with Nana Pae Abcede; her going to market everyday; her fondness for children giving them her blessings and something to eat such as bananas; the way she walks with her pair of wooden shoes (bakya) while holding her umbrella in one hand and a round, rattan basket with the other hand.
The description of then 5-year old Daniel Abcede about “Nana Manang” epitomizes the average, typical housewife in Infanta: a loving wife, deeply religious woman, and devoted mother whose dream is to see to it that her children are properly taken care of and educated.
With respect to Mr. Leo Villeno, like Mr. Daniel Abcede, he became acquainted with my parents while still a young boy also. Mr. Villeno narrated that he met my late father while he was playing with his younger brother, Manny at the playground of Alitas Elementary School. Because one of the means of livelihood of his parents was “karitan” –making wine out of nipa palm juice, he and his younger brother have standing instructions from their parents that whenever Mang Boyong comes around, they should close the “sumbi” or small room in their house where they stored wines in various containers. Otherwise, Mang Boyong, being a BIR agent, would impose tax ´penalty on the wine and their parents would lose money. However, when my late father arrived and asked: “Young boy, where is your father?”, before Leo could reply, his younger brother confessed innocently that his father is out there in the swampy area brewing nipa wine illicitly.
Tatay was known for his being strict to those who violate the law. But in the incident narrated by Leo, my late father simply laughed it off and took it with good humor that the person he was looking for was out there in the midst of the swampy area concocting illicitly nipa wine. In the words of Leo´s younger brother Manny: “Nasa lutuan po, nagluluto ng alak.”
But there were no arrests made nor penalty imposed. Leo´s account perhaps help explain why despite the zealous performance of duties of my late father as a BIR agent, he nevertheless, had a soft heart for the poor and those who tell the truth as well as a good sense of humor. No wonder, he acquired so many “kumpares” and “kumadres” from almost all the barrios (now Barangays) of Metro Infanta as well as from the town itself.
Modesty aside, from the narration of Mr. Leo Villeno, one could not help but conclude that my late father typifies the ordinary government employee, serious, conscious of his duty to uphold the law. But at the same time never loses compassion, sense of humor even at the most difficult moment as well as understanding when one tells the truth especially young children.
I did not know that my mother (Nana Manang to Mr. Daniel Abcede) and father (Mang Boyong to Mr. Leo Villeno), touched the lives of young children other than their own children. I am, therefore, glad and thankful to Mr. Abcede and Mr. Villeno for sharing with us their boyhood experiences with my parents. Their personal experiences show that we still live in a compassionate society which I hope such impression etched in their young hearts and minds would remain up to the present.
All of us, sometimes, somewhere along our respective paths in life, inevitably, although unexpectedly, encounter people other than our own parents, who, somehow, touch our lives and help us become what we are now -- hardworking, respectable and responsible members of a compassionate society.
These are the thoughts which I would like to share with readers of MIF Website and with our “kababayans” this Valentine´s Day which is a day of love, compassion and understanding.
HAPPY VALENTINE TO ALL!