Wednesday, October 06, 2004

“Requiescat in Pace.”

2nd November 2002; All Souls Day - Found from a Notebook
13:36 GMT, Saturday
My Original Ancestral Room and Table

It’s really very easy to fall asleep after a warm and hearty meal, coupled with the equally draining trek through the only-recently remembered graves of our faithfully departed. I already feel my eyes drooping under the weight of the circumstances, but I steel my hands from flailing now for there will never be a clearer moment, not now while they still softly simmer in my pot of memories. How dare I fall asleep when my own history is upon me? I will have none of that!

As one of the only scribes to detail my fading past, I literally take up this duty to record the last vestiges of my sanguine heritage. My elders are growing more feeble as we speak. Very soon they will no longer be heard, and my precious lore will forever remain a dream. This is the stuff of my very own kin, the forebears of my fiery blood. I will not, I dare not forget them.

Just why I’m so worked up right now are caused by two consequential things; the former being more physically linked. Caffeine. Fortunately for me, it still does wonders to the dulling mind. The latter, of course, is the obvious and stupid fact that I only started now. I should have jostled to listen to their stories long ago, when they were stronger.

Thus, I will attempt to recount what remaining data I have on my elder’s elders. We’re family all the way. The only peculiar thing about this, is that I found and dug up all these fascinating stories at the least expected place: the cemetery.

That is correct. The cemeteries of my parents’ clans gave me more insight into our beloved dead. This is one of the few places left on earth where I will throw kudos to the Roman Catholic dogma. At least this ritual has proven to have some practical use, and truths. Dead men DO tell tales. It just takes a kindred spirit to write it for them.

Naturally, it stirs a great deal of excitement within me as well; this being my only chance with this privilege. I will do my best to remain as sincere and faithful to the fact, and be true to the memories they would’ve wanted to be shared. All of these will be a bit romanticized in a sense, for what is a family without passion and zest? I am a scion come from their very blood, after all. They deserve this kind of posterity, finally.

Natividad Medalla y Obispo
Fallacio en 1949 de edad 69

This stead is great indeed. Like a sprawling imperial galleon with huge riggings and multiple masts, it dwarfs the surrounding tombs with nonchalant ease. My great grandmother. She was the aging maiden aunt of my mother’s father. Or almost. I never even realized she existed, until now. I asked my dad, who was lighting a candle at the base of her grave. My mom and her elder sister were at the far end, clearing away the debris from years of people passing through. Her spot was almost four times as wide as the normal grave, and her headstone loomed taller than three tombs piled atop each other.

My father says that she was a rich haciendera of the northern lands of Leyte. Her family had numerous businesses there. As she was single then, the task of supervising the plantations fell upon her. This was approximately during the turn of the 20th century, and transportation was mainly still by carriage or by boat. The manor house was situated in the heart of the city then, and it took half the morning to get across.

Fate would see to it that certain storms were to endanger her life and limb on a sea-faring voyage once. Her driver and boatman, her so-called man servant then, would ultimately save her from drowning. Back then, traditional Spanish beliefs about marriage and courtship still mattered, and it would weigh heavily upon her honor since any man who had seen a woman’s ankles or legs would as good as take her. Severely purist as was the norm then, and she couldn’t dare disobey.

And how. For the man had held her body and kept her head above water when their boat capsized. The boatman had not only seen her ankles, but touched her whole body in the act of saving her. She was thrashing about madly, and he had no choice but to hold her.

Funny how the customs can break up a family’s wealth. Thus they were married, and great grandmother “Nating” would take the name Medalla. Even though they were too old to have children, the former coachman was much too unaccustomed to his sudden great fortune. Unfortunately, he turned out to be quite the terrible gambler, and as his losses mounted, he proceeded to squander vast tracts of land to pay as collateral for his ruined gambits.

The area which is now a bustling commercial zone was reported sold by my great granduncle for a paltry sum of 40 pesos. The owners are Chinese now, and all for a bet in cock-fighting. The huge manor house is also gone of course, replaced by a concrete building today, another owner, another generation. My grandfather had only one other sibling, and she herself did not marry for fear the same mistake. Agapito and Victoria, my grandfather and grand aunt. Both entirely different stories on their own. Both gone from this earth. I must find out more about them. Yes, on another page perhaps, another time, at another piece of history I might gather from my other surviving elders. There is too much to know, but too little time. So soon will the cycle renew itself, and I will be one with them again, all too soon.

Till then I must live.