Monday, November 30, 2009

About a Photograph

This is supposedly a picture of me, together with my parents and two of my cousins on a beach, circa 1972. I've already forgotten how long I kept this photo with me. Ever since, my parents told me that I was the baby in this photograph, it seemed like we're inseparable; I always kept it in a photo album, then placed it together with my other photos in a shoe box after our home got flooded in 2006 in Cavite, and then I took it with me when I came back from vacation last May 2009.

Aside from this photograph, the earliest photograph of myself that I have was when I'm in my kindergarten, at St. Joseph College in Cavite City; and I find it weird. Most mothers usually have photos of their newborn babies, or even photos of themselves when they were pregnant; my mother didn't have any, except for this one. Strange?

I was told that the photograph was taken on a beach, behind a cemetery near the home of my Aunt Estelita Reyes and Uncle Montano Reyes in Boulevard Cresini, Cavite City, (the other Chabacano city of the Philippines), during the early 70's. The place was far more cleaner then, compared to now, but when I was growing up in the 80's, I remember the place was already filthy because of the mountains of garbage thrown there by the city government. My cousins and I, used to call the beach behind the cemetery as, "Tae Beach" or literally, "Shit Beach" in English. I also remember playing amongst the tombs in the cemetery near the beach with my cousins as children. If you were following the CNN Hero 2009, Efren PeƱaflorida on television, well, this is the exact place where he and his team often teach with their now famous 'Kariton Classroom'.

In the photograph, you will see my father, Felipe Cabrera, and my mother, Florinia Cabrera holding me. My two cousins, (the younger one), Manuel, he is in Scotland right now with his wife and children, and (the older one), Manolito, he's now somewhere in Canada with his wife and kids, they are brothers, the sons of my Aunt Estelita or should I say my "Nanay Tita", She still have five other children, most of them are living in the Philippines. They are my immediate relatives closest to us.

Around the time when the photo was taken, I was told that my parents did not have their own house yet, and were living with my Aunt's old house in Cavite City. The house was a typical middle class 70's style house, it's not big, yet not small, just right for their family. At a very young age, I have memories of that old house in front of the cemetery along Boulevard Cresini; I remember someone, perhaps a maid or a lavandera, doing the laundry outside the house, can't quite remember her face though, I think I was too busy playing with an old, broken, turquoise-colored toaster that my cousin gave me. But as far as my memory of that house is concerned, I guess that's just about it.

I used to have a baby sitter when I was a baby, her Name is Conchita Poliquit, or Conching to us. She's from Leyte in the Visayas, she's very loyal to my Aunt and her family, she was already with my Aunt when she was 14 years old, but when my Uncle died, the source of their family income died as well. My Aunt can no longer pay her services, yet she still remained to work with my Aunt even without salary, but she eventually left them to start her own life with Kuya Rolly, the guy she married. She's now a grandmother from her two sons and happily living in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite. We still communicate with each other every now and then. Some of the information about this photo is from her.

Regarding my parents, I don't know much about their history and how they met, we didn't talk a lot, I mean, we are not that close, all I know is that my mother was a teacher, and my father only finished highschool, and never stepped onto college, I don't even know if he ever had a job, all I know is that he drives my mother wherever she goes. They were living with my Aunt in Cavite City when they were just starting with their lives, but eventually were able to find an apartment in Noveleta. They are now into Barber shop bussiness. They've been living in their own house in Noveleta now, the very place where I grew up.

As for me, I never had siblings, I grew up basically alone while my mother and father were busy with their works. My Aunt (Nanay Tita) became my mother and her children became my siblings. Even though we lived in Noveleta, I often visited them in Cavite City. It's much easier for my parents to work if I was with my Aunt. I have a lot of happy days with her in Cavite City, it saddened me when she passed away early in 2009 in San Diego, (her husband died in the early 80's, I was very young then).

Looking at that photograph makes me sad sometimes. I can't believe how time flies. Here I am growing older, while some are dying, and others are just learning their first step. I guess that's life. Pardon me if you don't get the point of what I was writing, I'm neither a writer nor amazingly fluent in English. I just want to share a little piece of my life.