Tuesday, April 6, 2010

“Mom Does Not Like Her Hometown”

Am not referring to my own mother here, that’s why you see the title of this entry in quotation marks, okay?! That exact sentence came from a boy who just finished elementary school ‘with honors’ from one of the most respected institutions in Cebu. And why is this story here? Because this occurred during my midnight RORO ride to Tubigon! As said on the last part of the previous blog entry, there was nothing else to do on that RORO ride than watch the violent movie or sleep. What if you wanted neither? That was my case hehe!

Me and companion sat at exactly our designated seat numbers. Thankfully we were at the end of the long ‘bench’ and nearer the right side of the ship where we could feel the breeze. Unfortunately this was just about 3 rows from the old ugly TV blaring its ugly sound. So I kept moving around, to be away from that TV as often and as long as I can, and would come back to sit/rest on my seat. I realized the two passengers beside me were a Pinay mother and a tisoy-looking boy who was as restless as I was and he also kept roaming around the boat hehe.

At one time during a bored rest, I sat down looking at the TV but not actually watching whatever the characters were doing. No sooner, the boy came to approach his seat and he tiptoed front of my companion whose legs stretched front while trying or pretending to have a short nap. Boy accidentally stepped on a portion of my left foot (the dear old crocs actually). It did not hurt a bit but I still exclaimed an “ouch” to alert him he was stepping on my foot (footwear). I do keep learnings from way when I was still sporty, never move the foot when someone steps on it or that someone will surely trip. The mother heard me say “ouch” and saw her son stepping on my foot…

“Dâ dâ dâ! Tan-awa nâ, Andreeeeew, I told you to sit down, why couldn’t you stay still”? Hmm, that was a harsh reprimand from a very deep Visayan accent of a mother who spoke good English hehe. The boy faced me to say “I’m sorry sir, I did not mean to”, then sat between me and his mother and said “I’m sorry mom”. The mom was not done yet, she said other things I did not quite catch, though I heard her say “where do you keep going? what part of this ugly boat have you not seen yet anyway”? Boy once again said “I’m sorry ma” then sat still, silently looking at the TV. I too sat there silently though smiling, and in my mind I was saying “ah mothers…” nyehehe! One word is not enough from them mothers, right?! They have so many things to say, right?! That’s an undeniable fact hehehe!

Two or three minutes of silence passed and the boy asked his mother “ma, are you mad at me?” The mother promptly replied with a snort saying a strongly stressed “yes”! “Why so?” came the boy’s next question. The mom still seething though on the decrescendo said “because you keep moving around”. Smart kid was not about to give up and offered a “I just go around because I’m bored, there’s nothing to do, and I don’t go far”. “Haay, hipos Andrew oy, maglabad akong ulo sige ka’g lihok” said the mom. The kid persevered hehe and he asked “you worry when I go around, mom?” and the mother exclaimed “of course”. “You don’t have to worry when I go away ma, diha ra man ko o” pointing to some vacant benches at the back. The mother did not answer. I took it that she lost the battle hehehe! Boy stayed on clutching and leaning on his mom’s right arm, not speaking a word but obviously bored.

A few more minutes passed… (was that another 2 or 3 minutes?) and we heard some kind of cheering from passengers who were at the side of the boat. They were all looking out to the darkness of the sea. I guess they saw some fish or dolphin or whatever else. You guessed it, boy jumped outa his seat to go and see what was all that. The mother said a sarcastic and prohibiting “Andrew… asa na pud imong destination 'ron?” but the child was already past me, though he managed to look back and say “I’ll just check it out mom”. And he proceeded to the side of the ship.

She followed him with her eyes (and that meant I was in her line of sight). I looked at her, smiled and asked “only child?” She replied that this boy was her third and youngest child, the other two are back in London, one still in college while the eldest just got employed at a big bank there. Hah, conversations conversations hehe, I got her talking and was thankful I had something (someone to listen to) than the boring TV! All told, I learned from her that they were on the way to her hometown in Bohol [name of town I purposely omitted]. Also learned that this trip was all planned by the boy who just graduated from elementary school and promised his grandparents (her parents) that he’ll give them a surprise visit and show his honors medal and diploma. Wow, nice kid, I thought. She went on that Andrew used his own savings to purchase his own ticket and actually wanted to go alone. Her husband approved it, but she did not!

I remarked saying “he seems to be a very active kid”. And her reply was “ang kulit lang, ang likot, ang daldal”! And that was a chance for me to ask what I’ve been curious to know since I’ve heard them talk. While boy speaks generally in English and sporadic Bisaya, the mom’s tongue seems to be always a mixture of English, Tagalog and Bisaya. So I asked why. And she related that she lived in Manila working as a maid until she was brought by her employers to London where she eventually got married to an investment banker who kept shuttling between that city and New York. Andrew in fact was born in London and attended prep and primary school there, then a year in New York, 3 years in Makati and the last 2 in Cebu since husband now works as an investment consultant with offices in Makati and Cebu.

Our conversation topic changed a bit when the young dude came back from the side of the boat, probably bored again. As he sat down I said “hello, is this your first time to Bohol?”. He smiled, looked briefly at his mom then faced me to say “no sir, I’ve been here many times”. “So you like Bohol” I remarked. And the surprising reply was “yes, but only me”! I pressed with “ngano man?” He hesitated a bit as if trying to size me up, looked at his smiling mother and turned to me saying “ambot lang, kay si mama dili ganahan”! As we laughed, the mother also chuckled saying “saba diha Andew oy, I love Bohol, mao baya ni akong hometown”. “Ingon man ka bati diri, walay lingaw” was the boy’s reply.

To keep it from turning into a debate, I tried diverting the conversation with “who are you visiting on Bohol?” and he was prompt to say “si Lula _____ and Lulu ____” [names purposely omitted]. The mother was still laughing and said “lula ka diha, tarunga Andrew, its not lula but lola… lo.. la, lo.. lo”. A defiant answer came with “ma, its just the same, people pronounce it as lula and lulu, ikaw ra may artehan kay taga Maneeela” and he was making funny faces as he elongated the soft ‘e’ in Manela. As I laughed he was even making gay gestures slowly saying “sow-shall taga maneeela”. Ah the mom caught that with “show some respect Andrew, I’m still your mother, remember?” Then the boy hugged her while saying “veeery sow-sya-lera si maaa-maaah kay taga ma-neee-lah”. I think he was more of already squeezing her hard when he said that hehe.

What do you do when you’re with Lola or Lolo? So I asked. He just said “many things” but I followed that with “like?” And he was quick to answer “fishing, feeding at the piggery, collecting chicken eggs, bike to tabo-an, play at the beach with no hotels, katkat sa lubi”! I was just able to say “ows?” when the mother interrupted with “Andrew, I already told you not to climb trees again”. “See, she does not want me to do anything in Bohol, that’s why she does not like it here” he half whispered to me.

The boy was attracted again to the side of the boat where the attention of many folks was out into something else. I realized they could already see the port lights and we were approaching Tubigon. I casually asked the mother if she indeed did not like it at her hometown. She intimated that those are just what the kid knows, but if he only knew, there are more reasons why she does not like going “home” any longer. People call her a snub if she wasn’t able to wave or say hi, while passing by – even if she was busy with something else or did not recognize them. I thought that was shallow. But she continued…

There was a time she and husband collected old children’s books and donated them to the school where she spent her elementary education. Those books were re-donated to another school, some even burned by the existing principal when said principal had a misunderstanding with her mother. There was a time she asked for her newly acquired corner lot to be cleared in preparation for the building of a small chapel. When her father purportedly told the priest about it, said priest suggested that she just donate money to the church and the church would take charge of building “and blessing” the chapel. When word of the said plan got to the mayor, her father was also apparently sent a message via the barangay captain that she should just donate money to the municipal government who would in turn take charge of building the chapel. This is the clincher… “otherwise, that chapel won’t get a building permit from the munisipyo”. Many more stories and it looked like this woman just amassed a plethora of headaches since she attempted offering help to her very own town. I may not agree with all her views, but I understand her predicaments. She and husband even attempted to transfer her parents to a house in Cebu but her father declined the offer.

Her bigger problem is that the boy is so attached to the Lolo that she has not heard of any other place mentioned by this kid when being asked for a vacation destination. Andrew even abides by his Lolo's rules like 'when in Bohol, no PSP, no laptop, no cellphone games'. Add to that, the kid enjoys going to church every 530AM with her mother. "He already knows all the mysteries in the rosary" she said. She told me she knows that come weekend it will be another excruciating scenario when she attempts to separate Andrew from her parents as she needs to be back in Cebu. I asked why don't she just leave him in Bohol for the summer break since its his loving grandparents who'll take care of him anyway. Her reply was "di ko kaya dong".

Andrew was back and I asked him "how long will you be with Lolo and Lola?". He said “the whole summer break”. He glanced at his mother, shrugged and looked at me to say “well, one week, but I will come back with Dad before school”. After another glance at his mom he half whispered to me saying “she does not like her hometown, but that’s a secret”. When his mom looked and asked what he said, he jokingly replied “nothing, I told him I love you very much mom” and he let out a naughty chuckle.

Well, what a story. I learned many things from this mother and child.

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34


  1. hi sir! its me again, sorry about my first comment about calape's church. wa ko kabantay that u've already blogged about it. i jus discovered ur blog last week and im really hooked. your blog is memorable coz u include personal stories like this one.

    cebu-tubigon route is very familiar to me coz ive been travelling here almost every weekend since i was young. if u happen to be in bohol again, you are welcome to stay in our humble house there! (:

    ur story about that trike driver is funny. arriving in the port of tubigon specialy during daytime is always chaotic. drivers and barkers are kinda aggresive and they always cram their tricyles beyond their capacity. unlike in tagbilaran wer in theres an ordinance on anti overloading (i learned that from this blog!). but at least u wer not duped. 3 weeks ago me and two frends paid 200 pesos for a tricycle ride in moalboal, we found out it should only cos less than 50 pesos!! tanga jud! hehe!

    im stil reading ur past entries. its soo inspiring! the Getting Lost with Names series is interesting and informative. ur knowledge is really impressive, u always hav something to tell about a place no matter how remote it seems. oops! this is geting long. i'll comment in other posts nalang. ok, i'l stop here! thanks!

  2. thanks again JP :) hmm, that means I have a new subscriber hehe. I like your blog too, esp the feature of that guitarist's video on Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. If you just listen to it mura pud og naay taiko drums, pero iya ra diay hapakon ang guitar 'no? Anyway, whether you like it or not I will add your blog to my reading lists hehe

    Oh the Getting Lost series is halfway done. That reminds me I have to post the rest kay am transfering them from my spiral notebook

  3. hi sir! wow! thank u so much for adding my blog! i feel so flattered. murag 2 ra man akong readers unya karon naa nay link sa usa ka sikat nga blog. hehe u jus made my day!

    spiral notebook? me too, i keep a notebook everytim i go backpacking. thanks!