Bright light is hurting my eyes…
Oh, t’was just the sun.
Already 11 AM, and I’m still sleeping in our living room. My eyes still hurt and my body is aching, and just like previous summers in the province, I stayed up late all night.
I was alone in the house. No one was around. Then I told myself, why not make the most out of it? But since I can’t play loud ELectronica dance beats (and without a cool, sound system to boot) since it was Holy Week, I just resorted to reading uhmmm… “interesting” posts on a forum I found online. (Really!) Yeah, it was very different from high-volume pumping beats passing through every cell of your body. But it had the same effect: lack of sleep.
Lying on a makeshift bed just beside the window, the sun’s rays was taunting me to face the day ahead.
This feeling is so familiar.
The warm bed, bursting sunlight, the rumbling sound of passing motorcycles outside and a fired-up fan to keep me cool…
Yes, it feels like I was transported, about 5 years back to my mom’s hometown in Looc, Romblon.
With just a population of 19,898, it’s usually quiet in this town , just a couple of breast strokes to the world-famous vacation spot, Boracay. The early hustle of the local townsfolk normally wake me up during the wee hours of the morning, but today was different. More jeepneys and tricyles are driving around today, than usual. Oh right! We just came home from a sound system gig in the Town Plaza, for the Annual Fiesta celebrations. We finished up around 4 in the morning and I was dead tired. Carrying around speakers around my size wasn’t easy! But hey, sure was fun! Gosh, how I miss those days...
We actually lived there for a year, when my grandma migrated to the States and I also studied Grade One at the only primary-level school within miles, Looc Elementary School. I endured all the scorching afternoon soccer games, boring classes and even more boring tutorial lessons. (As if I needed it before.)
I remember kids around would call me names like: Tabachoy, Tambok, Tambuki, etc.. All meaning one thing: Pig. Of course I was hurt, because I didn’t understand why people would call you such names. I knew they were ugly (aesthetically, and morally) but I don’t go around shouting it at their faces! Good thing, a local High School teacher (guess the name of the school, lol) heard it one afternoon, while I was just walking down the street. She just got home. She saw me teary-eyed and a little angry at some kids, whom I don’t even know. She approached me and asked me if I was okay. At this point, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I cried like a baby and she hugged me a bit while explaining something to me in forced Tagalog. (She thought, I don’t understand Visaya.)
“Let them be. They are a bunce of idiots who have nothing to do. The next time they call you names, call me and I’ll scold them for you. If your grandfather was still alive, he’ll tell you the same…”
“But what if nobody’s around?“, I asked.
“Then tell them, that they’re just jealous because they are not as “healthy” as you.”, she said softly.
I just smiled and went home.
And ever since the neighborhood kids called me names, I did just that! (And it worked!) I was so grateful (and ashamed because I cried) for this old lady who comforted me that day, that I sort-of ignored her a few weeks after. But after the bullying stopped, she would greet me whenever I passed by her house, as if checking how I was doing. I would just nod and smile.
She was my hero that day. (or heroine, whatever.)
Now I wonder, how is she doing or would they even try to call me Tambuki ever again?
Just a thought. Happy Easter!