She was one of my most outstanding students in Business English. Her prose was clear and well crafted, with careful attention to good grammar. Diligent to a tee, she also liked to verbalize her opinions and always brimmed with good ideas.
Pam* got even better as the term progressed. And I was delighted to have contributed to her development.
That was last year, when she was a freshman student.
One day this school year, I was surprised to see her being walked around like a treasured guest by a group of her former classmates. Holding her hand, they approached me and asked her in Filipino, "Remember Ms. Chong, our Business English teacher?" (Students are not allowed to speak in any language other than English in our campus.)
Pam covered her mouth and giggled, then said in Filipino, "Sorry, I forgot how to speak English."
Her friends alternately revealed dizzying and chilling facts of recent events.
"Pam had a seizure three months ago."
"Doctors found a tumor in her brain."
"She went through a delicate surgery."
"Then she went into a coma."
"Now she has amnesia."
"She can't recall a word of English."
I thought I had beaten this topic (Mommy) to a pulp, but something just keeps popping up and I keep falling for it.
Okay, so I am now resigned to being called Mommy by all (except by my peers and elders, the remaining few whose vital organs refuse to be atrophied by advanced age) wherever I go.
Just when I am getting comfortable with this label, I suddenly earn a new one—Nanay, Mommy in Filipino.
When I heard it the first time last month from a hospital security guard, I searched my brain. What brought this on? It was very early in the morning and I was rushing to have my regular blood chemistry tests. (It had to be at that hour otherwise my all-night fasting would be all for naught.)
Church of the Risen Lord (CRL)
As a 14-year-old college freshman, a promdi (from the province), uninitiated to the ways of city slickers at the University of the Philippines (UP), I felt as though I was thrown into the deep end without any swimming lessons to keep me afloat.
It was here where I said a thousand and one prayers.
It was with mixed emotions (a pinch of sadness, a glob of nostalgia, and a dollop of happy remembrances) that I wrote finis to the “Oh, Mateo!” series of storybooks about a brave boy named Mateo.
This extraordinary eight-year-old kid, who lives in Pangasinan, and I went through lots of exciting, and sometimes horrifying, times together for a total of 15 books in 11 years.
All that is now over.
Have you ever wondered why the cat and the dog are perceived by mankind to be mortal enemies?
Man even invented an idiom—passed on through generations—to dramatize this animosity between the two most popular pets in the world: Fighting like cat and dog! (meaning, to argue violently all the time). We have translated this into our own Filipino language: Away nang away na parang aso't pusa!
I, too, find myself using this idiom, but then I became an internet denizen and found hundreds of photos such as these:
With the unabated rainfall in the last several days, which has caused massive floods in Metro Manila, our well-ordered schedule has degenerated into chaos.
There is zero internet connection at home, causing communications to go awry; I had to travel all the way to Makati, where I am now, to get wired back to the world. This blog post is eight hours too late!
Countless episodes that involve countless people shape our lives; but our brain simply can't remember them all.
There are episodes, however, that leave a permanent imprint in a child's heart. When that child has grown and unearths one episode for you, you still have no clue as to how or why it happened. And yet you feel unusually thrilled that it happened, and that you were a part of it.
Today is one such day of unearthing . . .
I have not seen my niece Mel (daughter of a first cousin) since she was a kid—it has been so long I can't remember the last time we saw each other. She now has her own family and lives abroad.
Suddenly, my private message balloon pops up while I read my FB wall.
“Hello, auntie . . . do you remember me?”