“As we go on through the years we’ll find that life is made up of meetings, knowings, and partings. Sometimes we love the people we meet, sometimes we do not like the people we meet, but knowing them is the most important thing about living, it’s what keeps us human being.”
It was April 04, 1997. I can still remember that day as if it were only yesterday. We arrived at Alcala, Pangasinan from Mambusao, Capiz. It was the beginning of seasonal rains, where the waters of heaven brought forth new nourishment upon the earth, removing the thirst of the soil. But my heart remained dry; the rains failed to bring new life in my heart for I was a stranger in a strange new land. When I looked at the dark clouds, I wondered, was it also raining in Mambusao? My tears mingled with the raindrops. I wish I could fly to the clouds and ride on them and fall to Mambusao’s green fields where I spent long and happy days frolicking with all the people my heart held dear.
We tried to accustom ourselves to this new place to fulfill my father’s wish that we should also learn to love the place that holds his roots. But my father’s relatives were uninviting, and they refused to accept us despite all our efforts. We were willing to adapt to their preferences to earn their affection, but it seemed to never be enough. Even though we were bounded by the same blood, they gave us unjust contempt, claiming that since we arrived, we had taken all that was rightfully theirs. Up until now, a divide still exists among all of us.
My young age dictated me then to do everything to be close to my cousins. I believe that we should not involve ourselves with the conflicts of our elders; apparently though, the division influenced them to turned their backs on me. I was not a stranger in a strange new land, I was alone. If they only knew how it was like to walk to school alone, to sit alone while watching them play, to just stay inside the house for the outside of its walls spread hate and false conclusions. But we were firm to stay for we loved our father. My mother bore the brunt of pain, but she faced all the storms with courage, compassion, and grace. It was at this time that the little delicate worm from Mambusao transformed into a glittering, steel butterfly.
We moved to Alcala with the hope of having a new and better life, coupled with the expectations that my father’s relatives will help us through the difficult period of transition. Instead, they condemned us to many years of isolation. They thought that they could break our spirits, but they were not successful. By setting the conditions of what they thought was a sure way to misery, they made us stronger and closer than ever before. They may have failed our expectations, but they instilled upon us the values of strength, resilience, and patience. They gave us a reason to strive, to prove our worth, to create our place under the sun and prevail. And we did prevail.
We started off as strangers in a strange land, but now we are thriving and prospering in it. By our modest achievements, we are slowly defying their ill-wishes toward us. More than ever, we are determined to lift our lives inch by inch and day by day.
Ten years ago, I wanted to go back to Mambusao and live the life I thought we deserved. But now, if I wake up tomorrow, I wish to only forget the day when quarrel and hatred sprouted in our family. Even though some had shown us undeserved animosity, there were still people who took us into their arms and showered us with love.
Struggle, as they say, is the essence of living. We should learn to accept the circumstances that life has created for us. For no one can control the events decided upon by the Providence. We have already endured our situation for less than a decade and there is no reason to stop enduring it for the decades to come. We will not wallow in the pains of our past, but in the expense of the opportunities of the present and future.
There’s no point in trying to change the past and turning back clocks. Instead, let us find among this rubble of pains and regrets, small and big treasures that make our life better and complete.