Tuesday, October 28, 2008

so much to say, but first of all


flash drives
folder of contacts
things i've said

These are just some of the things I've forgotten the past week. Scary. My short-term memory's starting to betray me. Don't tell me why.

So, what happened in Pampanga?
I'll tell you a bit about it then I'll digress.

It was the second time I've attended the UGAT Conference (the first time was in Miag-ao, Iloilo), and I was a bit disappointed at the turnout of participants--less this year. Ate Jo, a former classmate, said that it might be because the venue was near and therefore not 'exciting' enough--after all, it was only about an hour and a half trip from Manila. But of course I was okay with it; not only did I get to see my old classmates but also I got to spend time with two of my closest college friends Rejie and Prim.

Aida, Lorna, Fe

I've been there before, that heritage district in San Fernando--office work, we went to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Office. Also, over at Angeles, we got to visit the Henson ancestral house. Old structures never fail to amaze me. When I'm in a museum house I feel tingly.

The more I see old structures and learn local history, the more I want to go to my mom's province, Bulacan, to take in the stories of the place, of my family. I always find it interesting that my parents first met at a common relative's wake, and unfortunately I always forget (again, the forgetting) how the branches of the family connect and intertwine. One of our lolos took it upon himself to be the family historian, tracing the genealogies and positing that the Villarama clan came from a village in Mexico.

I always question this because, diligent as he is, Lolo Erning overlooked an event in Philippine history that might have had a hand in all this: the Claveria decree that gave Spanish surnames to the 'native' Filipinos.

The genealogical chart Lolo Erns made was given to me, because I think no one else in my family took much interest in that sheaf of typewritten paper.

Last year I started an online family tree. I could only supply information about my generation, leaving the 'roots' to my mom. A small step. Then, during our family reunion last December, we had an activity wherein all the families were made to make their own family trees using cartolina, crayons, and felt-tip pens. The trees were then presented, and then compiled by our family. The trees now serve as a memory device, and would surely come in handy during the holidays.

One of the things I asked my mom before was whether she new of any relative who might have been a Katipunero--after all, their family has roots in Angat, Sta. Maria, Marungko, and Malolos in Bulacan. I was hoping there was.

Something 'newer' though: Lolo Erning's chart showed that there was a Philippine Constabulary soldier member of the family who died in Corregidor. That's as far as he knows. I want to dig deeper, say, 1800s--but unfortunately I don't think there's anyone living who can supply the data. No one in the family's fond of keeping written records too. How about old newspapers in the library, birth registries in old parishes? Worth a try, though I hope they weren't discarded or burned. Always in history there's a fire.

Sometime, perhaps, when I have the resources (and time), I'll go dig, do some research. Anyone in the family willing to fund? Stateside people? :)

[I see the Villarama 'pingkit' eyes in my cousins, sometimes I think I exhibit it too. Often people would ask if I had Chinese blood. It's just the eyes I think.]


Too bad that my mom's old house in Angat had been torn down--I loved that house, the capiz windows, the bamboo slats, the old cabinets. I never much cared about it when I was young and we went there during fiestas and other family gatherings; it was only recently that I began to miss it, much more when I sat in the conference listening to discussions on heritage and going around an old town. Nostalgic.

Swimming in the Angat River. Fear of a great flood, building a raft that would take the family to Manila. A lola eloped with her beau. Mom walked to school and went home for lunch. Her mom was a teacher at the school, which ran up only to third grade. She finished the rest of grade school in Espiritu Santo in Manila, then went on to high school in UST. When the high school building burned down they had classes at the seminary.

Old pictures. My youngest sister looks like my pre-teen mom, with long wavy hair and bright big eyes. And I look like

a little frog princess in a bikini.

Rejie's folks do not sleep before 2 a.m. They made me eat chocolate cake at 12:30 a.m. Midnight chitchat+snack. It's a house that never seems to sleep. They have roomfuls of books. I could get lost among the piles. Tito Pete has a lot of photography books. They drove me to the conference venue every morning. I am writing a lot of simple sentences.

Look what I found! Wanna know what I did with this photo? Ask my mom!


This tape I'm making for Laura.... has music she likes. Things that make her happy. And for the first time, I think I'm starting to see how that's done. - Rob in 'High Fidelity'

I have recently acquired 'new' songs that a friend generously gave a couple of weeks ago. I thought the Pampanga trip would be a great time to fully 'immerse' myself in the new music, so as I was packing I was also 'screening' the songs, picking out the albums that could keep me company during the ride.

Listening to the cd was like meeting a stranger. First, curiosity. Then, questions, who are you, what are you doing here, stuff about likes, dislikes, life in general. The more you find out about the person the more you see similarities (and differences) between you. Like, how he/she also has the habit of getting the window seat in the bus, eating the edges of a sandwich first, or looking up at the sky at six in the evening. You take note of information, of stories, that make the person less of a stranger.

What do you do with the differences? You compromise, if you have to. I think it is somehow like heritage, or religion. You don't discard the existing for the new, but you adapt the new to suit your current interest or need.

Am I making sense?

Oh yes, the cd. When I finally got my 'chosen ones'--those that easily appealed to me--I realized that they were very similar to what I was already listening to. Some weeks ago I had a eureka moment in the musical sense--I 'found' my genre. When I told friends about this they said, "because it's the music you grew up with. You always come back to that." I guess so.

Imagine picking albums from a 4-gig cd to fit in a 2-gig player. So who made it to the list? Well, my Counting Crows was still there, sixties pop, motown, and folk rock, Elliott Smith, some Beatles of course, Weezer, some pop-rock-reggae-standards miscellany, and from the cd, my top four picks: Belle & Sebastian, The Lucksmiths, Of Montreal, and The Housemartins.

There you go. How's that sound?

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