Sunday, April 11, 2010


The couple tensely sat on the edge of the lime green sofa. Seated beside them was my mother wearing her most expensive blouse for the occasion. Across the table were the parents of the boy. He will be my mom's son-in-law soon. It was the first time the parents of the children met, and as impression showed, introductions were very cordial. Pleasantries were exchanged. The mother of the future brother-in-law looked so youthful, one is convinced that she must be in her mid-thirties. Truth is, she is in her mid-forties. The father seems to be in his late fifties. We didn't ask. The age gap between the couple is exactly the opposite of our parents. Mom is approaching retirement age and dad passed away six years ago before turning 50.

First order of business was recognition. Would the in-laws able to tolerate us? Would they able to accept the fact that we are not in a strong position to bankroll the couple's expenses and that we may rely on them for medical check-ups? The answer is a resounding yes. The in-laws appear to be floating in cash. After all, the mother is a senior officer in an HMO company, and the father owns a small construction firm in Cavite. At least, half of our worries has already been resolved. Finally there was the question of commitment. My mom asked her future son-in-law.

"Handa mo bang pakisamahan ang anak ko kahit alam natin kung gaano kasungit yan?"

"Opo!" His voice boomed with confidence. I am relieved.

The news about my sister's untimely pregnancy was not completely accepted in the family. The favorite aunt raised fury when she learned about the "accident" a day after mother revealed it to me. On the verge of tears, the aunt expressed her feelings of betrayal after doing so much for my sister. We were dining at Pancake House near the Baywalk that afternoon. My treat. Her words found a sympathetic ear after I realized how deprived I was at times while utol got what she wants.

The favorite aunt's issue was not about having a baby. It's about the utol's lack of foresight in conceiving a new life. Being a doctor, the aunt sees how young, unready couples suffer when their children gets sick. Some of them live through dole outs from their aging parents, and these parents in return, who rely on retirement benefits are being deprived of their money. Knowing how some lolas and lolos carry their children's burden of raising their own kids, the favorite aunt branded the utol as selfish and an ingrate. "She should have known!" The favorite aunt said. She was referring to our mother who would be retiring in two years.

But mom saw everything in a "metaphysical" perspective. Claiming that she prayed for a miracle to pull the sister out of her Leftist leanings, perhaps, having a family would set her priorities straight. This sentiment was also shared by the in-laws, who welcomed the child with joy and optimism. Being in good terms with their future daughter-in-law, they appear more prepared to accept changes than my conservative family does.

But we are catching up.

Looking at the couple: my sister wrapping her arms around her boyfriend's torso, and the boyfriend trying to articulate his plans to the parents like a Presidential candidate sells his platform on television, one is certain that their union was already a done deal. The appearance of the parents were just a gesture of formalities, for both couples were already accepted long before the child came into the picture. Even the pets, who never show up when there are visitors in the house expressed their approval as well. With their bellies lying steady on the floor, the dog and cat never left the living room until the most intricate provisions of the marital union were adopted.

Good fortune appears to favor the couple, for another aunt - on my mother side came by to throw her support to the utol. This aunt is infamous for her tactless remarks and poor relationship with people. The cousins avoid doing business with her, and there is a reason behind their aversion.

Just a few weeks ago, the aunt sent an off remark to a cousin she commissioned to do some artwork for her exhibition. This cousin apparently ignored some requests from the aunt which, irritated her. Hurtful words were sent over SMS involving the parents of my cousin. Somehow, old resentments about an age-old sibling rivalry between aunts seeped through the message and issues that should have never been resurrected was brought back to life. The cousin replied with a text message containing very insolent words, so insolent, those who read it was shocked at her rudeness. The message was forwarded to everyone and the cousin received some strong censure from the favorite aunt herself. This incident triggered a family-wide feud that remains unresolved as of this entry.

Gratitude was what the cousin forgot, and this gratitude, the utol must always remember: In a time when she was drawing some flack for her carelessness, it was the infamous aunt and her two daughters who were the first among my mother's seven siblings to fully accept her motherhood fate.

The Pamamanhikan lasted for several hours and through the course of the conversation, we learned that the boy's parents are as decent as what my sister told us. They were courteous enough to hear our opinions and considerate in understanding our hesitations.

Somehow I felt a pang of jealousy after seeing his parents together. Twenty two years of marriage and still, their bond remains.

It was agreed that the couple will get married. It will be a simple church wedding and the future husband's parents will be in charge of the venue and the reception. Our family, who is still in the process of winning the hearts of the aunts and uncles of the clan will help in anyway it could. Sourcing badly needed funds remain our biggest concern, and the rift created by the infamous aunt might result to some family members not showing up during the wedding day.

The chain of events which began when the utol allowed her boyfriend to sleep in her room has achieved a milestone. Two families will be united not by sheer chance, but by some heavenly conspiracy whose aim is to repeat a history in hopes that it could be corrected:

Mom was an activist and so was my dad. They got married not because of an accident but because they dreamed of the same utopia. I was conceived a year after the couple entered a union. However, they were both unprepared for my coming. Dad became a full-time Leftist when I was about to go to school. His decision forced my mom to raise the family on her own. Dad eventually realized that his children were fast growing up. He strove to get past the rat race and he succeeded. Drunk with power and influence, his life revolved around work - and the seedy characters who pushed him to the top. We remained in the sidelines, and for many many years, even when fame and fortune has already showered the patriarch, we were left to survive with our meager resources. Looking back, it wasn't as bad, for in return, we have learned to adapt. But his actions resulted to lives being broken. Father lived the remainder of his life in the arms of his young mistress and away from the ones he used to call his flesh and blood.

There is a chance the new circle ends in a happier tale.

The utol and her future husband barely have three months to prepare for the wedding. Four months to find means to live independently and Five months before the infant comes out the womb. Their firstborn will be the eldest among the new generation of children in both families.

Taking a cigarette break while talks were still underway, I looked at the sky and wondered about my place in the order of things.

Because if history indeed is just repeating itself,

The past reveals I might not have any place in the future.