Monday, April 21, 2008

Padasal for My Mother

Today, I went to my hometown of Paranaque, now part of Metro Manila, to commemorate my mother’s 30th death anniversary.

During death anniversaries, the tradition here is to have a “padasal,” a prayer session for the dearly departed, usually conducted and participated in by some of the oldest women from our part of town. This we held this afternoon at my cousins’ house (my parents’ house burned down a few years ago and was never rebuilt).

While waiting for old relatives to come for the padasal, my cousin suggested that we honor my mother by talking about what we remember of her, and this is what I shared:

When I was a child, we were poor and could not afford electric fans or air conditioning. During summer months when heat was unbearable, my sister, two brothers and I would all sleep on a banig (women mat) on the living room floor so we could take turns being fanned by my mother.

Unlike my siblings, I had a hard time going to sleep, or staying asleep when I was feeling too warm. My mother would lie down next to me and she would stay awake most of the night to fan me with an anahaw hand fan. As soon as she noticed me tossing and turning, and probably while she herself was half-asleep, she would raise her arm and swing her fan to and fro to create a breeze over my face.

This is one of my fondest memories of my mother, who passed away thirty years ago of ovarian cancer at the age of fifty-five.

Dear Nanay,
I thank you for taking care of me when I was growing up. I miss you. I will always love you.
Your daughter,