No Read, No Write

Lola Cionang, my maternal grandmother, was unlettered. She had difficulty reading; she could write only a few words and sign her name. But she was wise.   
By her example and words, I learned to be punctual (especially in church), considerate, and circumspect in everything I do. She knew her Bible, even if she read it syllable by syllable. She constantly sang hymns (Ilocano) from memory. As a little girl, I pegged her age at 60, the stage when, I thought, people knew it all.

I had often wondered where she got her wisdom, but never got around to asking her.

Now, decades later, I know. She went through a tortuous life—a child bride with nine children, conceived before and during a barbaric world war. She was the perfect foil for my grandfather, a controlling Don with a Spanish temper.

By scrimping, she was able to buy farm lands for their children's education in Manila. Without raising her standard of living, wearing the same baro't saya over and over again, she and my grandfather put up a place of worship for the community, which remains standing to this day. 

Where did all her wisdom come from? In today's lingo, people say, “She's been there, done that.” I say, life with God. She didn't read from books what she learned from her journey. This wise woman lived a life fraught with adversities, but not once did her faith waver in a loving God. 

(The above is a short chapter from my book, Circle of Compassion, published by OMF Lit in 2013. It is available in all book stores and at the ongoing Manila International Book Fair, Sept. 17-21, 2014, SMX MOA.) 
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9 (ESV)

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