My Family (Part 1 of My 5-Year Tribute to 'Ina')

Originally written and published on September 17, 2016.

        This is a five-part spiritual reflection on my identity as a Bicolano. Each part consists of a theme that will later on culminate into "something" that I will share to the rest of the Bicolanos.

        Last year, I posted a short essay about my birthday as it coincided with the feast day of the patroness of Bicolandia, our Ina. Every year starting this year until 2020, the details of my life as it centers around Ina will be particularized. This part will reveal some of the details about my family.

Part I: My Family

My family on our mother's 65th birthday and retirement party.

        I still remember the exact date, September 17, 1994, when, as a young seven-year-old child, I was giddily preparing my things for a short family trip to Naga City, about a hundred kilometers to the north. My parents earlier excitedly told us, us three siblings, that we will be there. That wasn't my first time, that's for sure, but it was certainly meant to be special since it was also the wedding anniversary of our parents. While writing this piece of article, they are as well celebrating their 33rd anniversary today.

        I was very young, naive, innocent, and clueless... I didn't know for a long time what that day actually meant but now that I am turning twenty-nine in a mere three days, I now understand why it was special: my mother once mentioned that they chose September 17, 1983 to be the scheduled date of their wedding because that was the feast day of Ina. Hence, that memorable day in 1994 was something special to my family because three things coincided that day. On that day, our parents decided to visit Naga to pay homage to Ina not just as a married couple but as a family.

        I remember having that three-hour conversation with my mother along the way to Naga City where she reveals each and every name of the towns we were slowly passing by: Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao, Oas, Polangui, Bato, Nabua, Baao, Bula, Pili, then Naga. Added were the details of the various dialects being spoken in those areas. That was the first time I heard those names. I remember having asked my mother, "Pawnu su Iriga?" in my authentic Miraya dialect. I remember becoming confused because we already "passed by" it without my mother mentioning it.

        The little details of that brief visit are still in my memories: the encounter with a young girl whose language I could not understand, the first pomelo juice that I drank, the visit to Jollibee and how we enjoyed playing there. I think we weren't able to go to the renowned churches though as my mother, being concerned about us as little children, thought that we might get lost amongst the crowd... but the entire day was fun... at least to my seven-year-old self. The nostalgic effect of that day resounds eternally as the feelings I had of that day, even if it was already a long time ago, seemed to have never left me...

        Recalling all those things today gave me the idea to do the same as what my parents did: to visit Naga whenever my birthday coincides the feast day of Ina, the first of which will take place on my 33rd birthday in 2020. After all, all my roots come from Bicol; I have no genealogical links to other places aside from Bicol so having been born on the feast day of our patroness means everything to me. As my parents were also married on the same feast day, I quipped to myself: "what a nice surprise, everything about me centers around my beloved region." 


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