Sunday, March 14, 2010

From Quezon Avenue to Cubao

Everyday I take a the train from Quezon Avenue to Ayala. As you can see in the photo, the trains are usually packed with bodies trying to squirm around for a better place to stand on until they reach their stop. That day I was lucky to have been able to find an empty seat on the bench. I sat beside this old-ish woman, maybe in her 50s, wearing shorts that one can classify as "pambahay" and a blouse with big prints on it. She was wearing bright yellow rubber slippers, her nails chipped and her feet a little cakey. Gray hair pulled into a ponytail with a decolores rubber band. She was a sight that is pretty common in the MRT. What got my attention was her hands, darkened by the sun and her nails yellow (too much detergent?), but she was wearing too plain wedding bands, one obviously too big for her that she bent it a bit.

The train stalled in one of the stations and as we waited for it to resume operating, she asked me if I can tell her what time it was. When I did, she sighed and looked worried. She told me that she was going to her daughter's because she's getting married in a few days and she will give the wedding rings she and her husband wore during their marriage. She does, however, needs to get the bigger one reshaped in Cubao.

"At least gold yung magiging singsing nila ba. Kahit papano may K naman," she said. She said that she volunteered to provide the rings, though at that time she had no idea where to get the money. But she knew that she needed to do it. She needed to present her daughter in the best light possible. Now that she hasn't come up with the money, she was left with no choice but to give up her and her husband's rings.

I can't answer with anything but a sad smile. What was there to say to this mother, who is like all other mothers I know who are poor? It's such a sacrifice to give up something that has been part of your life for the longest time. It must be hard to give up on a memory of a man you shared your life with. But such is the case for families like hers. Sacrifice is not sacrifice, it is but daily life.

I remember my own mother, who in her youth experienced being burdened by an infant. I remember all the mommy stories I heard from friends and the media. I remember all the stories that my grandmother told me about her mother who hid them underneath their house, covered with coconuts and banana leaves so they will not be discovered by the Japanese. I remember my grandmother telling me that when her mother died, she went to rural areas to offer haircutting services and mani-pedi so she can help her dad make ends meet. I remember her telling me that with her waif-like frame, she would haul bunches and bunches of bananas that were used to pay her so she can sell them in town. I remember these stories and cannot fathom just how much motherhood changes a woman. What strength she develops and what bond clings her to her child seconds after she holds that tiny being in her arms. No words are said, no handshakes are exchanged, no contracts signed. It's just there.

True, that maybe this is an experience I can get only when I become a mother myself, whenever that may be (not soon, for sure). The woman in the MRT got off Cubao. I didn't even get her name, or her daughter's name. I didn't even realize to greet her goodbye or take care or best wishes for her daughter. One second she was there, another she was shuffling off to the door, shouldering her way through rude MRT passengers, and she was gone in the throng of people that is Cubao. She was a tiny woman, maybe not even five feet. But she was a giant of a mother for making that sacrifice.

So I raise my glass to all mothers and/or wives out there. May you be a great one! Heck, I raise my glass to all ballsy women. Women who take control of their lives and not get stuck in the middle of irritating undecidedness. I raise my glass to women to take risks and rise above the rest whether or not she succeeded in her endeavor. I send out good online vibes for women who go out of their comfort zones rather than staying in comfort and sneering at those who made a leap. I'm hoping for a new breed of independent, liberated women to populate the earth. We've no time for silliness from the past. We act on our desires. We are FIERCE!

Finally, I raise my glass to all the men. It would be so boring without guys around.

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