… from emancipating. From living your life how YOU feel like you should live it. From traveling. Or even having a travel life. Okay, before I begin. Let me just explain first. I am not in anyway encouraging you to be rebellious towards your own mother or anything.
I’ll introduce you to my mother and I’ll explain my living set up so you have an idea how I live and why I’m saying this. People have been telling me how lucky I am that my parents are supportive, and I’m not gonna deny of that fact. I will say how truly blessed I am.
My mother, Elsie, was born in a strict family. Her mother, my grandmother, almost entered a convent, “escaped” (that story was told very vaguely to us), married young and became a housewife. A traditional Filipina housewife, back in the day when their role was to take care of the family and isn’t allowed to meddle in her husband’s business. Elsie, born in 1938 (please do the math), was the eldest of 12 (?) children. My mother would tell me stories as to when she’d be invited in the party, her father would have one of her sisters, ask her to go home after 30 minutes. Elsie grew up in a strict household.
Elsie moved to Manila and was a working student in college. She had her fair share of suitors, being the beautiful that she was (and still is). My mother met my father when she was 30+. They were in a relationship for 3 months (this version varies, sometimes they’d say 5 months), and married after. She had five children, two of which were miscarriages. And I am the youngest and the only girl.
My mother raised me as if it was in the 1930’s. I wasn’t allowed to go out, my curfew was before the sun sets. As I grew older, my mother and I would fight – mostly she’d get mad at me, I never answer back. When I was 18, I stopped schooling and took a part time job in a call center, I worked in the mornings and I get off work at 1PM. If I am not home by 2 or 3PM, she’d send me an angry message asking where I was. Even at the age of 20, I am not allowed to sleep over elsewhere, I had a curfew of 10PM. If I get home later, I’ll never hear the end of it. I’d still be grounded at the age of 23. I’d push my limits sometimes. She’d allow me to travel, but I have to ask permission two weeks in advance, and a constant reminder to her a week until the day of my travel. She’d always say, “I can’t sleep well knowing that not all my children are home”, and yes, that includes my brother who’s 13 years older than I am and has his own family. I really believe that if my mom CAN keep us all under her roof, she WOULD.
Only a few months ago, she was so pissed off at me for wanting to go out at 8:30 in the evening. Yes, only a few months ago, I’m 26. I talked to my dad about it (crying and complaining) and he told my mom to stand down.
Over the years, I’ve learned that I truly had to gain her trust. She’d be less mad if I text her every hour or so, or if I actually ask permission (sometimes, this doesn’t really work). At some point, I had an opportunity to work far from home, she put some thought in to it, let me took the job, but at the last minute, she told me – using her loving, motherly tone not to take it.
Now, I still have to have a few days notice when I’m leaving Manila. And when I’m away, she’d text me everyday when I’m coming back. I have come in to terms that it’s who she is, and how she expresses her love to me. She’s not out to make my life miserable. She’s just concerned.
At the end of the day, I had to understand where my mom’s coming from. Why she’s always so strict with me. She’s worried, she doesn’t trust this world. She’s concerned for my future and she only wants the best for me and my life. But, I have to make her understand how I want to live my life. And with that, we met halfway. She lets me go out now. She lets me travel a few weeks at time. And every time I come home to her, I would tell her stories and I see how she appreciates them and I feel she’s happy when I’m happy. Any mother would be, any mother would. Your mother only wants your happiness, and when they see it, they’ll trust your decision.
Now, I know you’ll tell me. “You don’t know my mom, she won’t listen to me”, I’ll ask you, have you talked to her and have you listened to her side?
Five weeks seemed like a short period of time, looking back, it actually flew by faster than I hoped. Two weeks turned three, three turned five. It wasn’t my plan to stay in Baler for five weeks. On my fourth week, I was contemplating if I should extend or if I should go back to Manila. I decided to leave, I said I wanted to miss Baler. I wanted to keep coming back for more. It’s only been a few days and I’m finding myself regretting that decision.
Miserable Manila is back.
I don’t know whether it’s the air, or the traffic, or the hustle, or the people that’s making me miserable in Manila. I have not left the house ever since I got back last Monday evening, only because I don’t feel like going out. The thought of the crowdedness and all the vehicles and whatnot stresses me out. It’s only been a few days and I already can’t wait to leave.
On the simple rural life.
When I got back, my dad and I were catching up and he remarked “Maybe that’s what you prefer, maybe you like the rural life”, and I do. I really do. I love going out on trips to different surf spots, going on picnics, being able to swim in the ocean whenever I want, walk to places, ride motorbikes, hangout on a friend’s house because they’re your neighbours, playing with kids. I mean, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies in the province, but I like how I don’t have to rush. I like how everything I need is accessible, and I don’t mean the luxuries within reach here in the city, but my necessities – like food to cook, water to drink, ocean to play on.
Indefinite plans for the future
I have this strong feeling of wanting to go back, but I feel like I would on the time (?). I’ve yet to plan it, but in my head, Baler is one of the places I would want to settle down in.
The other day marked my second week here in Baler, this is the first time I’ve been away from home for that long. I’d usually only go on trips for a week at most. Since John left me here, the boys kept me company.
I grew up with two (WAY) older brothers, so I know how things pan out when it comes to teasing, annoying each other and even playing rough house. But even that did not prepare me for this kind of living setup.
I am now living with at least eight boys, age ranging from 21 to 11. I’m gonna say it now, it’s fucking crazy! From stinky toilets and smelly farts, trash talks during pusoy dos, smacking the shit out of everyone (them, not me), swearing, rough houses and take downs and tickle wars. I have come in to terms that by the end of this trip, I could identify their farts. CRAZY.
Some days are crazier than others, some days with voice raised we all would piss each other off. Demanding wifi password, phone password, movie marathon on the laptop. Calling each other out for not taking a bath or brushing their teeth. Making the youngest cry, you know, from trash talks to actually physically hurting each other.
Some days are more mellow, like male cats who like straying away, these boys would go out on minutes, hours or even days at a time. They always go back here, tho. Which I’m extremely grateful for. They would watch out for me, making sure that I’m with someone or I’m okay in being alone.
Above all that, they’re treating me well. They’d help me around the transient I’m staying in, cook food for me, do the dishes, give me motorcycle rides for errands. Some days I’d tidy up the room, but once in a while they would surprise me with a better or lazier way of tidying it up (depending on who did it).
The other day the transient we’re staying at had guests, some of the male guests were staring at me, which annoyed the hell out of Neil. I thought he was just being picked on, so I told him to just ignore it. When we got back, the guys flocked together stared at me at the same time, I snapped at them saying “hi” with a sarcastic tone (which didn’t help). Neil was on game face on. I’ve seen that look, I know how far he’ll go. But I’m very much thankful that he’s always looking out for me.
The past few days had been quiet, not everyone is ‘home’, which kinda makes me sad. But it’s okay, they live a stone’s throw away from me anyway.