Saturday, June 26, 2010


However, Nanay Bining's life is not all bright and sunshiny. Left with an aging daughter who has no family of her own, they stay in the smallest apartment in the compound where I live. Supported by a relative who works abroad, their monthly provisions go to the dialysis treatment of her daughter. The house they occupy is a world forgotten in time. Decrypt and almost in a state of disrepair, a whiff of staleness and longing for the older days assaulted my senses the last time I went there. The living room serves as Nanay Bining's bedroom, her kitchen is perpetually dark and dusty and God knows what lurks in the rooms upstairs.

Nanay Bining
Fullmetal Dreams
September 13, 2008

It is said that it is more difficult for a parent to lose a child than for a child to lose a parent. A child can move on with her life but a parent, in the prime of her age, will have to think about living without someone to watch over her side. Such fears begin to cloud my thoughts now that I'm just a few monsoon cycles away from turning thirty. How much more for someone, whose sole reason for living has now been gone.

News broke out the other day that Nanay Bining's ailing daughter has passed away. For those of you who still remember, Nanay Bining is the old lady who lives in an apartment a few houses away from ours. She has always been active in our community, often seen with the regal (and crouched) matriarchs lurching towards a Mah jong party in the neighborhood. Her flowery dusters and bright colored umbrellas are her signature get-up. She is the face of grace confronting life's burdens and her presence has always been a comfort assuring everyone that there is life beyond the age of seventy.

The news of her daughter's passing adds a whole new level of gloominess in the home front after the revelry of last week. An uncle's father also passed away this week leaving his sons, daughters and grandchildren - not to mention his wife - to accompany his earthly remains to the grave. Nanay Bining will have to walk alone (perhaps with a handful of neighbors going to the public cemetery) but with no money, immediate relatives or government assistance to keep her in the coming weeks, I wish not to think of her future.

I attended the wake of Nanay Bining's daughter to show our family's sympathies to the old lady. She was visibly weak after sleepless nights of mourning and attending to her daughter's funeral the next day. She was surrounded by matriarchs who stood by her side all these years. When she saw me arriving at the chapel, she stood up from the pew, raised her frail arms high enough to hold my face and kissed my cheeks like I was one of her children.

After guiding Nanay Bining back to her seat, I went to see her daughter's remains inside the coffin. The contours of her skull break through the thin layer of skin. Her stick-like arms and limbs revealed the years left behind by failing kidneys that withered her in life.

"At least she is at peace," I said quietly.

My visit lasted for less than an hour. I could not stand the truth of life glaring in front of me. I held Nanay Bining's hand the whole time I was at the wake. Comforting her while keeping an emotional distance was my way of holding back my own worries.

Who would look after her? How will she get through in life?

At that moment, all I could wish for is having extra money to support her.

She held my hand close to her face, while tears welled her eyes. The old lady next to her said she hasn't eaten for days, while the matriarch behind (who was an ex-baranggay chairperson) preoccupied herself with accounting the district councilors who sent their condolences to the old lady.

A representative from a Congressman showed up. She handed over an envelope containing some cash. When Nanay Bining counted the money, it amounted to three hundred pesos only. Cheapskate. The priest finally arrived for the special mass prepared for the deceased. Fearing that I will never arrive in time for work should I stay behind, I loosened my grip while the old lady was busy recounting to the newcomers the tragic events leading to her daughter's last breath. One last look at Nanay Bining's face, now drowned with painful memories of her beloved, I severed the remnants of empathy to say goodbye.

"Mauna na po ako Nanay," I said while slipping a crisp P500 bill on her wrinkled hand.

"Salamat sa pagbisita..."

Walking away, I remembered her friend's comforting words earlier as Nanay Bining pressed her face against the back of my hand.

"At least handang handa ang anak mong humarap sa kanya." Her friend said.

"Siya na ang bahala sa akin." Nanay Bining replied.

"You will meet again." I told myself before stepping out of the chapel without looking back.


SOLTERO said...

it's a sad reality. but at least she doesn't have to take care of another person other than herself anymore. the pension from the relative will probably help her a lot, kasi sa kanya na mapupunta yun.

but i won't be surprised if she's gna follow her daughter really soon. i guess that was just the reason she's still alive - because her daughter needs her.she needs to be alive for her. now that teh daighter's gone.............

blagadag said...

my deepest sympathies to your Nanay Bining's grief.

Yas Jayson said...

when we are confronted by the reality of mortality, we end up in confusion most of the time. it's like thinking of so many things pertaining to what comes next then all of a sudden, all become void.

you attending the old lady's daughter's wake is like looking through a glass, darkly.

i am nineteen but honestly, i also think what could happen when i grow really old.

in the midst of things, lola bining is placid. i wish i am like her.

you write so consistent. philosophy of solitude that is.

fan fanan,

Jon said...

the worst thing that could ever happen as we grow old is to be left alone.

i hope Nanay Bining would be strong from such loss of a beloved one.

Anonymous said...


I'd like to help Nanay Bining. Hope we can have a chat. btw, here's my ym add: Please do get in touch.


canonista said...

After reading this entry, I suddenly felt more sad than I already am. I thought, who would go first to the other side, me or one of my parents?

I am gifted with the knowledge of when I will be leaving. I fear that I may not have enough time to fix what needs to be fixed with my parents. I don't want to go yet, not with the wounds in our hearts. I am not yet ready to come home, that's what I am saying to God.

This post bears my fears of the future when my time to go comes. As early as now, I am preparing for my departure. Financially, and of course, spiritually. I don't want to leave my parents with broken spirits, hearts, and pockets. They will miss me of course, and I will miss them. They still have their partners and child with them. I don't want them to be as lonely as my life has been. I have my battles to face while I am still alive, when I leave, I want to leave in peace and not leave them with a cross to bear.

Yes, I'm sick.

*Some will seek forgiveness, others escape*

dabo (or david) said...

i also share your fear.. my condolences for nanay bining

Mr. Brightside said...

My condolences to Nanay Bining.

From this post I can really say, you're a good soul Mu[g]en.