Just Another Day, Today
Kyn H. Firmalino
Specks of dust swirl with bright yellow light streaming in shafts through the window of our dining room. On a mid-November morning, it hardly rains. I can see the sky is clear, light blue interspersed with puffs of cotton candy-like white clouds.
Maya capras, those house wrens, chirp incessantly in crescendos while perched on the branches of our kamias tree outside. Some have dried grass straws in their beaks as one by one they fly to a corner of our window's awning. To the right side of our front yard, one sturdy coconut palm has grown tall. In the fourteen years we have been living here, its gait has slightly leaned with the elements.
Lola Auring, my grandmother, is calling me now. She always does at around this time. It is just past seven and she invites me to breakfast. My mother has just walked in from our kitchen. She also calls my attention as we both settle in our seats.
With us in the dining table are my six year old nephew, Oweng, and my five year old niece, Justyne. At around this time, my sister and my brother-in-law have already gone and are approximately halfway to where they work. My father, who retired from a long corporate career five years ago, has yet to return from his daily tennis tourneys with his neighborhood kumpares at our subdivision's sports center.
As it is typical in our traditional society, I live in an extended family. My elder sister and her family lives with us. My maternal grandmother also does. My mother's father died thirteen years ago.
Just now, my niece Justyne is asking me if the mayas always build their nests at this time of year. I can only answer, "I guess so but I'm not sure." Oweng, on the other hand, is being reprimanded by my mother for only eating pan de sal when there was rice and fried fish. She was telling him that he might get hungry before their mid-morning break at school. He answers back with, "Di ba sabi ni Jesus eat your bread araw-araw?" ("Didn't Jesus say to eat your bread everyday?") My mother and I look at each other while trying to suppress laughter as she gropes to explain to this six year old nephew of mine the difference between the Christian concepts of the spiritual and the material bread.
At quarter to eight, I am walking at the street in front of our house. Being connected with an applied linguistics services outfit, I do not have any regular working hours. What I do have is an output deadline. This suits me fine as I am able to do most of my work at home. Today, I am going to deliver the translations ordered by a client.
With his horn honking tutot, tutot the taho vendor passes me by while balancing on his shoulders two stainless steel vats hanging from each end of a thin bamboo rod. A small kid is waiting for him at the street's end. Two teenage boys in worn out shirts, shorts and rubber slippers are pushing a wooden cart. They shout, "Bote, dyaryo, garapa!" -- bottles, old newspapers, metal scraps -- enterprising young boys in the buy and sell business.
I remember my friend Juvy. We have spent countless conversations on the difficulty of earning a living here in our country and the hows and whys of many Filipinos who opt to seek financial remuneration elsewhere. She is now in South Korea. Ironic about the situation is, although she works there to earn so she can live a relatively happy life, she constantly feels sad in yearning to come back home.
I am now facing the main thoroughfare in our village. From where I am standing, I can see the thin film of smog hanging over where Manila is to the south of this suburb where we live. And so, while I am waiting for my jeepney ride by this curbside, I begin to think. Life here is hard, as it probably is elsewhere. But we make do with what we have. And although I barely have enough in my wallet even for my jeepney fare, I still have my family, my friends and myself. For those things that matter most in my life, these are more than enough.