Mountains of my life: Forever Soldier
Many stories are being told about climbing a mountain; this one's about faith.
A question often crosses my mind – how do I want to be remembered? I have so many thoughts on this because, simply, it always crosses my mind. But, you know, I try to treat this as imaginations. I will never know. You will never know – that we are being remembered. Do our heroes know that they're being adored and honored?
Rick Warren said, “You were not put here to be remembered. You were put here to prepare for eternity.”
Nevertheless, the image of my papa always comes across. He was a simple man with nothing – but everything – to give.
“Just be happy.”
Despite the scarcity of things and opportunity, he was happy. And he was misunderstood - by me, my siblings and mama.
When I was nine or ten years old, old enough to remember those memorable days, he brought me to the center of a mining village. The mine was to us a real blessing, to my boyish mind, it was a gift from heaven above. Dusty road and yellow water, and an English speaking (American) manager, the environment is still inside here. I was proud to hear my papa converse with him.
We rode in a truck used to transport lumber to our town. It was my first long trip as a child, and I saw the mountain, the rigorous terrain, and the beauty of God’s creation with the backdrop of a yellow water.
My eldest brother was one of the laborers. At salary time, he’d present to mama his pay slip, a summary of earnings and deductions.
“Well, my son, better luck next time,” she said with a kiss on his forehead as she stared the contents of the slip. Maybe a few pesos to buy a ganta of rice.
The innocence of the place could be pictured in my face.
“What are we doing here, Papa?”
He couldn’t give me a clear answer. He simply muttered things like he was applying for a job because he was suspended as policeman of our town. The American manager was too kind to accept us, not kind enough to give us a job. And so we walked from that place back to the nearest town, some twenty to twenty five kilometers, maybe more. We trailed a vast wooded area, rivers, up and down, long and winding. An exhaustive, long trek for a ten-year old kid like me. When we reached the first house in town, we asked for food and water. I felt how it was like to be a beggar.
Mama kept on nagging: study, study, my child, so you can’t inhale the mountain and the color yellow. And now I know why I have to study and strive like what she said. Life is a very difficult subject, more difficult than the trigonometric principles in college. Now I know why the earth moves and revolves like a spinning ball. It’s because life also revolves and spins. Sometimes you are poor, sometimes rich.
I was called Amerkano because as a young boy, I had those features, genes I inherited from my grandfather who lived in the island, and later left for his good, native land after espousing one of the natives. He left a part of his gene to become a writer like me who struggles to coin words everyday. Now I know why I speak good English.
A brood of five and all boys was mama’s ticket to heaven; she had her purgatory on earth (to be aggravated by my papa’s drinking). Sometimes, she would just scream in the middle of a peaceful morn. The five brothers didn’t really have peace in the kitchen.
My vivid memories are focused on the rainy days of my childhood, so full of nature. How happy we would have been if those drops of rain were real manna of the Jews, because the five brothers always longed for them.
I feel nostalgic when rainy days are here, or drizzles outside the windows come at times. During those wet days, we used banana leaves as umbrellas. And tin cans protected us from pouring rain that flowed like water falls on the holes of our nipa roofs. The cans were hung on the ceilings to catch the water when the rotten nipa leaves could not anymore protect us from the pouring rain.
High school was full of action, hungry stomach and memorizations. A teacher forced us to memorize history notes, word for word, including periods, commas and question marks. No wonder, she too could do it even with colons and semi-colons. I could memorize long sentences and stanzas of American and Filipino literature. We did it under the shades of coconut and guava trees, reciting facets of world history, word for word, facing the woods at the back of the school. The hollow-blocked fence separating the school and the wilderness looked like a long bridge adorned with young, ambitious "memorizers".
College? Less thrilling than high school. I copied one whole article from a magazine and had it published in the school organ, with my big by-line. From that time on, I became the writer and future attorney.
After college, I joined an army purportedly to serve my country, but which later turned out for goons and gold. I took with me some wealth I wanted for a lifelong adventure, forgot everything that was left behind. Slowly, my foundation deteriorated, eaten by rats and mice I kept in my subconscious. All the enigma, excitement and endless dreams and ambitions suddenly, to my mind, became positive. Now here in this world of my own – I can call my own – away from the land of poverty I started to build my dream world. A real one. A fantastic recreation of my childhood dreams full of adventures and escapades.
How did these all happen? It was just like a dream.
The earth, seen from above, is a beautiful stone, a mighty rock, thrown by a powerful hand from an ocean of nothingness. It will be there forever. But to be destroyed slowly, and slowly by you and me.
Haven't you imagined yourself a spirit? You can regard yourself as a spirit floating over the universe, watching at the earth, slowly and slowly deteriorating, until it collapses into nothingness.
Like a mountain with mines. Like a river with chemicals. Like the air that you breath. Slowly they will go back to the mouth of God.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF GOD SPITS THEM ALL, MAKE ANOTHER BLACK HOLE FULL OF EVIL SPIRITS? CAN YOU IMAGINE? ASK YOURSELF!!!
(This is the introduction - somewhat - to a book about me, of course, and it's like a summary, don't you think? Our life is like an island, there are rivers and seas and mountains, and mines. It has a beginning and an end, and the end seems to be the beginning of another. Don't you think?)