Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alone Now

Auntie Alie  (Santa Ana - 2010)
Today is a sad day.  My aunt Arcelie (Alie) lost her dearest husband; and my cousins Joan, Arnel, Maylene and Wilson lost their father. Uncle Roman passed away after a long time of suffering from cancer.  The last time I saw him was when my family went to the Philippines last November.

Uncle Roman and Auntie Alie were teenagers when they got married.  They used to bring me with them when they visited his family in Makirit.  There I I enjoyed playing with one of Uncle Roman's nieces - Linda.  All of his siblings were engaged in commercial squash growing.  It was very fascinating to see tons of squash harvested and piled up on their yards. 

My uncle and aunt on the other hand, decided to focus on rice farming.  They started their family in Santa Filomena.  There they bought a house that was made of all wood.  I was a little girl when they moved the house through bayanihan.  Bayanihan is a process when all the men in the community gather together to move a house - literally.  In its original original location, the house was surrounded with coconut trees.  Several trees had to be chopped down to make way for the house.  I also got to watch a water well dug and built in their backyard.  I had so many fond memories at their house as a kid.

Uncle Roman (2008)

They used to own a big hectarage of rice fields.  They also owned a lot of land, carabaos and horses.  I still remember their kalesa which was painted with a greenish color.  The picture registers in my head in an impressionist style now - I can't see the details anymore.  I think uncle Ninoy Pacis painted it for them since he was the only painter/artist in town. 

Then later when uncle got a job at the saw mill in Lallo the family moved.  He stopped farming and they sold all their carabaos and horses.  Years later, they also sold their house in Santa Filomena which signified their intention to live in Lallo permanently.  At this point, my cousins who used to live a few yards away are now several bus rides away.  The good thing is that they lived near the Cagayan River - they would always bring some ginukan along when they came to visit us.  My aunt loved my mother (her sisiter) that she visited her often.

Almost-complete Galvan Family (2008)

Many years later, I left the Philippines and did not see all the things that happened since then.  However, every time I went back to the Philippines, Uncle Roman and Auntie Alie always made sure to bring my cousins to come see me.  Eventually, it was not only my cousins that they brought but also my cousins' children.  I have a picture of Shannon as a baby with Maylene.  Last year when Tim and I brought our kids to Cagayan, Uncle Roman was already very sick to come and see us at our house in Abulug.  Instead we went to see him in their house in Catayauan, Lallo.  I was very sad to see him so thin.

Now he is gone.  My aunt will be all alone.  The good thing is that her house is surrounded by her children that they share the same yard.  This proximity with her children and grandchildren will, hopefully, ease the transition.

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