Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ninongs and Ninangs


The Mama and the Daddy asked six of their friends to be the ninongs and ninangs, or godparents, when I was baptized.  The Roman Catholic Church recognizes only two baptismal sponsors, and one ninang (female godparent) and one ninong (male godparent) did sign on the formal lines of the baptismal document a long time ago. The other four signed on the right hand top of the page. I have a feeling the godparents signed it all at once at the church, which makes me wonder if the priest panicked that the church rules were not being followed.

The parents taught me that the spouses of the godparents were also ninangs and ninongs, and I was to address them as such. Altogether, I had 10 godparents. I have many memories of these elegant people. Here are a few of them.

Ninang Deling taught me my numbers in Ilocano. She was quite patient with the four-year old me that bounced and danced around her as I repeated after her—maysa, dua, tallo, uppat, lima. . .

When I was six or seven, Ninong Cleto and I drove in his boat of a car to the store for candy. As I selected candy bars, he asked for the 3-foot tall doll sitting on the shelves up high. This doll had tits and wore heels and a fancy blue glittery gown. The Mama thought it too pretty to play with, but its hair still got shorn and its dress torn.

I think the late afternoon/early evening phone calls from Ninang Babe started when I was in middle school. Usually a bit tipsy, she called to tell me how much she loved me. She talked about other stuff, but I only understood that she loved me. Our family didn't say "I love you" to each other back then. It was a given. Yet, for a kid, it's nice to hear the words, even from a godmother who by then I had no idea what she looked like.

In 1975, a friend and I decided to drive cross country after the spring term was over. The parents did all they could to discourage me. The idea of two young women driving, unchaperoned, across the United States was a foreign concept for them. What if your car breaks down? What if you meet bad people? What if you run out of money? And so on and so forth. I started to get anxious and thought maybe I shouldn't take the trip. Then Ninong Pablo dropped by the parents' house for a visit. "I hear you're going to drive across America," he said. I nodded. The Daddy had probably called him to come over and advise me.  "You're going to have a great time,"Ninong Pablo said.

And, then, there was Ninong Frank. The last time I saw him was in a supermarket parking lot. He was heading towards his car, while I was heading into the market. As always, he gave me his version of a big smile and eventually asked how old am I now. When I told him that I was in my 40s, he was quite startled. "Oh, well," he said, pulling out a five-dollar bill from his pocket. "Here. Buy yourself a doughnut."
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How's the Mama?


The Mama, as some of you dear readers know, is in her nineties. The tiny, fragile, slow-stepping Mama is doing well, thank you very much for asking. She's as fit and magnificent as the flowers and vegetables that she grows. The only medication she takes is for her thyroid. I can only hope that I haven't screwed up the genes she gave me too awful much.

This morning, I found a poem that I wrote about the Mama two years ago when she was rushed to the hospital. The Mama is amazing.


The Sleeping Mama
Slipped into her ER room.
She was fast asleep,
Hooked up to the IV, heart monitor, and oxygen.

In one moment,
she could not move
no matter how hard she tried.
And, she tried, and kept trying, to stand up.

"Walking pneumonia," the doctor said.
"Dehydration."

What did she say? 
"This is going to cost me a lot."
© 2014 Su-sieee! Mac


I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Knowing the Language


Nearly 35 years ago, a college professor, who hailed from Australia, told me if it weren't for the awkwardness of my writing, I would've got a higher score on my paper. She forgave me for some of my usage and grammar because, according to her, "English is your second language."

For once, I kept my mouth closed rather than enlighten her on how wrong she was.

English is the only language I can read, write, speak, and understand fluently. Proficiently, too, except for the lapses in awkward writing and the proper use of grammar, word choice, and cliches. I'm especially good at forgetting articles (the, a, an, and so on) and getting prepositions mixed up, which, I think is because the Ilocano language has no articles and, as far as I can tell, one preposition.

As I was growing up the parents mostly spoke Ilocano to me while I spoke English to them. I still do that with the Mama, and the Husband finds it very strange. It's really not unusual with immigrant parents and their American-born children. Once, I tried talking to the parents in Ilocano, but they couldn't figure out what I was saying. "Your accent is funny," said the Mama, after she and the Daddy stopped laughing.

When I was a kid, many Filipinos who just immigrated to the U.S. thought I couldn't understand Ilocano. After all, I greeted them in English when they came to visit the Mama and the Daddy. It was inevitable when the parents weren't around that a visitor would say in front of me, but in Ilocano, "My, the daughter is fat!" Another visitor would respond, "She probably can eat a whole pig by herself." And, they would all snicker.

I pretended that I didn't understand, although when I became a teenager, it was very difficult not to put them in their place. But that was okay. I just waited for the moment when the Mama would ask me to serve refreshments. In Ilocano. Then, one of the visitors would ask awkwardly, "She can understand the language."

"Yes," the Mama would say. "She was born in the United States. Even though we speak to her in our language, she can only speak English."

The visitors always cringed and fidgeted.

As I write this I wonder if the Mama may have also overhead the visitors say rude things about me, and that was her way of getting back at them. After all, I rarely saw any visitors who talked "behind" my back come to the house again.
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Kitty Cat


This is Molly the Kitty Cat. For short, we call her Molly the Cat. Prrrrrrrrrr.

I've told many a tale about our sweet Missy Molly by Golly. If you'd like to read one, please click here. Have a great weekend! Prrrrrrrrr.
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jumping the Ditch


Because I was born 10 days after the cut-off date for first graders, I was sent home on the third day of school. Fine. The Mama had her hands full caring for Baby Sister and figuring out the new house that we had moved into about a week before school started. That meant I got to go with the Daddy for part of the day. Great!

The Daddy irrigated the rows upon rows of crops on the valley floor. During  his morning break, the Daddy came home to fetch me. I'd get in the car with my Golden Books, coloring books, and crayons and down the hill we would go. While the Daddy worked, I entertained myself with my books and when that became tiring, I'd wander and explore, but never too far from the car and always where the Daddy could see me. We'd go home for lunch and sometimes I'd get to go back with the Daddy.

A ditch stood between the fields and the car. It also separated me from the Daddy. Without help, I could not get over the ditch, especially when it was filled with water. One day, I decided to get over the ditch. Yup, that day it was full of water.

I jumped.  Wheeee! I landed safely on the other side.

I turned around and jumped back. Then I jumped again. Back and forth I went.

Splash!

Before I knew what happened, the Daddy pulled me out of the ditch. I was not hurt.

"Your mom is going to be mad," the Daddy said in his quiet-like voice.

I looked down at myself all wet and muddy. Oh-oh.

From that day on, until we moved again, I stayed home with the Mama and the Baby Sister.
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.