Raised by my Na-Nay Vilma and Ta-Tay Carling along with their own sons Kuya Dong-Dong and Kuya Bong-Bong – this is not a double entendre, but our given nicknames through our families. Mine is Goy-Goy, strange to some but quite the norm in my culture. As I look back on it, Na-Nay and Ta-Tay didn’t have a big house. They had a big dining table made from a thin layer of wooden sheet, converted into a bed every evening. In the middle was a hole the size of a medium plate, no foam cushions to lay on, but a banig as a sleeping mat. We didn’t even have a mosquito net to ward off the pesky blood suckers, so at the age of one or two – as my relatives would inform me of my childhood – my legs were covered with mosquito bites, some infected causing yellow puss to trickle down my leg, flies covering my wound. This was my “normal” as a child.
My mother sacrificed many things during my upbringing. She left me with her cousin, Vilma at the age of 7-months. I didn’t feel abandoned by her decision, but her reason were justifiable and admirable. In order to create some supplemental income for the family, my mom would always retell the story of the time she would sell polboron (Spanish shortcake) on the roadside next to our house. The revenue she generated would buy baby formula for my sister.
As for my father, he was MIA. He was less than memorable during my childhood; wasn’t much around to provide that parental comfort most kids receive at that age. I do remember him telling me to go fetch cigarette packs from the tindahan (corner store). I never understood why he was never around. I always thought he was trying to find work around the major cities like Manila, but that wasn’t the case. I was later told my father impregnated some other woman while my mom was away. I can’t confirm this fact, but since the enlightening news, my sister and I have investigated the possibility and we’ve concluded its authenticity is 90% true. After speaking to my father’s sisters, all alluding to the mistress that captured my father’s heart, the same time he left me and my sister fatherless.