Friday, April 24, 2015


If you are a child raised in a home with strong family values, which between these choices hold more importance: personal freedom, or duty to one's blood ties? This question came up after refusing to listen to a friend talk about his personal issues. 

My friend said he wanted to disappear; that he can no longer take the pressure and the hopelessness of having a sick sibling anymore. 

At a hindsight, I get where he is coming. Being young and so full of dreams, he sought to shape his life without the strings tied to a dysfunctional home. I myself had harbored some thoughts when I was his age, and when it was his turn to speak what I had already resolved, I find it appropriate to let him learn the outcome of his choices without an elder to impose his life lessons, which may not be applicable to his experience. 

Because mine tells of a different story.

I was once a kid who had a father for a businessman, and when our fortunes dipped, I sought to look for work elsewhere, virtually abandoning him and the enterprise he had built after some misunderstandings widened the rift between us. It didn't help that he was stubborn, and unable to truly grasp what lies ahead. And given that he had a family - a mistress - I conspired to keep from my own mother, extracting myself so as not to drag the rest of my loved ones down with him was my atonement. That was my choice, and to this day, the cycle reincarnates with the same narrative happening in my profession. Given this desire not to repeat the mistakes of yesterday, of not abandoning the hand that plucked me many, many years ago when I had nothing, I stuck with my job, while doing a side work that offers much more than what my company provides. The boss doesn't know this, but I am employed, full-time, in another workplace.

I speak of this question, not just for my friend, but for me, who had lost my ability to exercise my personal freedom for duties I have long embraced. Only this time, the knot binding my hands had grown tighter, more grounded in the space within the four walls that is my world. This afternoon, I was thinking of moving into a hotel, a resort in the highlands with a vista of the city to continue working. I was trying to have this notion of a retreat, while delivering tasks that seem to never end.    

Then it struct me, I cannot leave my room. There are too many, mostly darkly scenes cluttering my head: What if a fire breaks out, or one of my nephews get injured for causes I should never think? With these thoughts holding me back, even an overnight leisure in another place becomes a pained decision. 

I would rather stay home.

Hence, I went back to sleep despite the late afternoon heat, relieved that I wouldn't have to spend a penny for some indulgence that I didn't really need. What is lamentable is the pattern, of this growing attachment to the place I cannot take myself off from. Last month was the beginning, when my feet had only afforded me a sight of the bus station. I scrapped my plans of having a solitary trip to Baler on the very eve of my departure because of an omen manifesting in my sleep. Next month, a teammate in the account I am handling will be leaving for Singapore. The boss had decided not to hire another agent leaving me and a colleague taking turns to make sure the customer support runs seven days a week. Finally, earlier today, the matriarch had asked a favor no son can ever refuse.  

"Nakikiusap si Anna." The girl she was referring to was our maid.

"Kung puwede daw na ikaw na lang ang umalalay sa akin pagtayo sa banyo." Fearing that she might slip when no attendant is looking, she asks someone to help her stand up after her trips to the toilet. 

"Sumasakit na daw kasi yung likod niya sa pag-akay sa akin pagtayo." 

Understanding the pauses between her words, I would have to count the hours I'm away from home so as not to break my mom's toilet and bathing pattern from now on.

親孝行 - Filial Piety, In serving his parents, a filial son reveres them in daily life; he makes them happy while he nourishes them; he takes anxious care of them in sickness; he shows great sorrow over their death that was for him; and he sacrifices to them with solemnity.

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