Monday, November 9, 2009


Our house is a little bit peculiar. Sitting on a corner lot surrounded by cyclone fence, the gray exterior contrasts against the trees in the foreground. We have a lot of trees in our lot- a large mango tree in the front lawn, bent when a strong typhoon once hit Tacloban, a golden acacia beside it, and a mahogany tree on the eastern corner. Outside my bedroom window peeks the sun-dappled leaves of a tamarind, with a java plum rising from the spot near the abuhan of our dirty kitchen below.

We live in a two-storey duplex, about a twenty minute walk from the highway. I like the peace and quiet here. From the terrace, one can view the tin roofs from the subdivision right beside the main road, with a hectare of vacant lot overgrown with cogon separating them from us. We can also see the big “R” sign of Robinson’s mall- a short walk from our residence.

My brothers had a penchant for pets and we had a lot growing up- twenty or so doves, which have taken residence up on our roof, a number of dogs- a Japanese Spitz named Cindy the most beloved, adopted stray cats, a lone turtle, white mice (at one point had cross-bred with black rats and overmultiplied, thus prompting our mom to feed them Racumin to control their population), and chickens. Now my brothers are all grown up and residing in the US, but some of our pets remain. The doves still spew a generous amount of bird poo which causes the wooden beams to rot, our cats still catch mice from time to time, and Cindy is enjoying ripe old age.

Cindy is almost blind from cataracts on both eyes. She’d been with us for nine years now, and she was my mom’s favorite. They bought her while I was away in Diliman, so every time I went home that spoiled puppy would always bark and be all hostile to me. Now it’s a different story of course, when I feed her for example, she won’t eat the piece of chicken or meat in front of her, until I gently nudge her so she can smell the food. She does waggle her tail when she recognizes my voice when I come home from school even if, I reckon, all she sees is blur.

The other side of the duplex was said to be haunted. The reason was that for 14 years no one lived there. Next door, the situation in our house is different because we are always noisy and chaotic- no ghost would dare live with us. Sometimes, when our house overflows with guests (during fiestas mostly), we let them stay next door. The next day they’ll either come out with rashes all over their face, or be covered in hives, or won’t be able to come out at all because they got locked up inside the bathroom- we had replaced the lock on this door three times already- after three different people got locked inside. A number of years ago our neighbors asked us if someone was living in that house already, because they saw lights being turned on and off in the house. I told them that’s impossible- that house has no electricity. If there were ghosts, well, they never bothered us anyway. And at present that place is being rented out, and so far our neighbors have been fine.

My late mother’s orchids still bloom beautifully on the north side of the lot. She bought them from the many places she visited as a nurse, a Waling-waling from a Davao trip, dendrobium from Southern Leyte, and many others that still thrive in her little garden. My grandmother planted white anthuriums that lined the damp concrete barriers, and the single agave still stands proudly.

We moved into the home my father built for us even before the construction was done in 1994. The second floor was made from coco lumber, but I thought it was really lovely that they made French windows for the fa├žade, while other windows in the back had only humble jalousies. Like an old friend, I loved it with all its imperfections, after all it is here I find solace. Though sometime we all had to move away, this place is thick with memory- our family’s memories, and they are still alive. In the unpainted house, my brother’s doves, my mother’s orchids, my grandmother’s bromeliads, the trees that have withstood time and many a typhoon, and of course, dear old Cindy.

1 comment:

Mac Callister said...

i miss home tuloy bigla...


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