Mom told me about three weeks ago that my newly widowed aunt is coming here to San Francisco to pay us a visit. Haven’t seen my Tiya Alicia for years, ten to twelve if I’m not mistaken. My parents both agreed (didn’t even bother asking me in advance) that she’ll be staying at my place, what was I suppose to say? except “fine.” It was my parents idea to have her come here for a couple months. After my Tiyo Pablo died last year of a sudden heart attack, she’s been by herself most of the time and left crying day and night. My parents thought a temporary change of environment would do her good.
We picked her up yesterday at the airport. She has aged a lot since I last saw her back in our ancestral house in Kamuning, but nonetheless, she’s still glamorous. Gave her a big hug and the customary beso-beso, it was nice to see her after many years. Like every relatives reaction, she was surprise how huge I’ve become. She jokingly said ” Iho, you’ve seem to have adapted well towards American lifestyle. Look how big you are now! “ What was I to say? I just had to smile.
Let’s push the fast forward button, to get to the funny part of my story…
Tiya Alicia was unable to sleep last night, said she’s tired but she still has jet lag. It’s also hard trying to catch up with the time difference. And since everyone else has retired, why not keep her company? A good chance to catch up on “chickas” about our family back in Manila. I asked her about her children (my cousins) and she claims they’re all doing fine. They’re all busy running what’s left of our grandparents business and keeping a family all together. She then asked me, how I’ve been.
” I’m doing okay naman po.” I said. “I keep myself sane by working and keeping myself busy. Kayo po, Kamusta na? “
” Mabuti naman, Anak. Naninibago lang siguro ako, ngayon na wala na ang uncle mo. “ She said and was a bit teary eyed.
Then she tried to change the conversation, maybe it was too soon to talk about her husbands death. ” Eh ikaw, kelan ka ba mag-aasawa or magkakaanak man lang? Ikaw nalang kasi ang walang anak sa inyong magkakapatid. Hah! “
I was caught off guard for a minute. ” Naku Tiya, alam nyo namang bakla ako. Aasa pa ba raw akong mag-asawa? “
” Hanggang ngayon ba? “ I didn’t expect that response. Being openly and obviously gay my whole life, I was shocked. Is she in denial or what?
” Oo naman po, alam na po yata yan ng buong angkan hah! “ I started laughing. ” At tsaka nag asawa po ako dati, pero di rin nagtagal. Malas lang po siguro. ” Pertaining to my so called marriage (union ceremony) many years ago.
” Talaga, Anak! Bakit naghiwalay kayo? ” I knew she was going to ask me that.
“Mahabang kwento po. Basta nagkalabuan lang po kami ni Scott. Baka single for life na po talaga ang bagsak ko.” I saw her wrinkled her forehead.
” Scott? ” She asked.
” Tiya naman, bakla po ako. Di po ko pwede sa babae. “ Scratching my head after.
” Anak, pasensya ka na. Pero di ko lang talaga maintindan ang sexual preference mo. ” In my head, what’s so unclear about it? I guess some of our older folks still have issues or different opinions about gay marriage and homesexuality, in general. But that’s absolutely fine by me, they’re entitled to their own belief. As long as they don’t start preaching and act self righteous, I’ll keep my mouth shut.
” Paano ang relationship nyo? “ Was her follow up question. She’s becoming intrigued of my gay affairs.
” What do you mean po, Tiya? “
” I mean yong, pagsasama nyo. Sino ang husband and sinong wife? “ This questions is driving me insane, seriously!
” Tiya naman, di naman po eto bahay-bahayan. Di na po yon importante. Basta nagmahalan, yon na po yon. “
” Sa tanda kong eto, Anak. Marami pa talaga akong di alam sa mundo. ” She said with an innocent face. ” Ok lang ba sa Mommy at Daddy mo? Sa mga kapatid mo? “
” Oo naman po, but they chose not to dip their fingers in my personal life. That way po, tahimik ang buhay. ” Was that a good answer? Hahaha. ” Si Daddy naman po kasi eh tahimik lang yan. Mag cocomment lang yan pag kelangan. Si Mommy, madalas mag sermon; but she’s accepting at minsan sinasakyan pa ang kabaklaan ko. My siblings, they care; but keep their distance. Okay naman po sa kanila eh. Wala namang problema, wag nga lang na mag-iiyak ako. “
” Ganoon ba, Anak. Mabuti at understanding sila sayo. ” Still with a hint of confusion.
” Wala naman po silang magagawa. Ganito na po ako, noong araw pa. Dba? At wala naman po akong ginagawang masama sa kapwa. Natatandaan nyo po ba nong bata pa ako eh madalas na akong tuksohin, sila uncle pa nga ang may pakana. Na paglaki ko raw eh magiging parlorista daw po ako don sa may kanto natin o di kaya eh mag-tatangga habang rumarampa sa kalye. So bakla na po talaga ako. Noong araw pa! “ Having that painful recollection tortured me almost my whole life. But then their predictions didn’t turn out right, so I’m the one who’ll have the last laugh on their bluff. I didn’t turn out to be a “parlorista” (no pun intended on my gay beautician friends) and definitely not (caught) wearing a swimsuit on a gay pride parade.
“Akala kasi namin eh magbabago ka pa, Anak. Na pagkakalakihan mo rin yan. “ Like it’s some sort of puberty or teenage issue, Heck no!
” Akala ko rin po eh! “
” Makulay pala talaga ang buhay mo, Iho. Pero kong masaya ka naman, eh okay na rin. Maaliw ang mga pinsan mo pag nakwento ko eto sa kanila. “
” Gawin ba raw showbiz ang buhay ko, Tiya. “ We both ended laughing. I guess I didn’t expect that a simple family conversation, can be both eye opening and comical.
More “chicka” to follow…