Sunday, May 20, 2007

I woke up early this morning. I was to accompany my grandfather to his hometown in Pampanga. At eighty plus years old, he is still up and about. He is never idle and might get sick of inactivity. But as the years slowly pass by, I realize that he has few years left remaining in his life.

He could still manage to go travel alone. But still, I egged on my mom that I should go with him. Even if he is still agile, perhaps even more than people a decade younger than he is, I still fear that he should not be left alone traveling that far a distance.

Our first stop was at Bacolor, my grandfather’s hometown. This was the town mostly damaged by lahar during the onslaught of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in the 1990s. It’s not as deserted as it has been the last time we saw the place. Some road improvements have been made. New stalls, although still empty, have been developed for the town market. What used to be the upper floor of the old houses is now paved to ground. We never saw any of his relatives, except for some people who knew him long ago. I guess we just went there so he could see the place where he spent his childhood years. We saw the trade school where he studied. As we passed a town statue, he proudly told me that it was his grandfather, a previous mayor of the town. Here I also learned a little bit of history, that Bacolor was previously the capital of Pampanga.

It took us only a few minutes stay, and off we went to see his kuya (older brother) at Angeles City. During our jeepney ride, we both noticed all the changes that have happened in the places we passed by. He used to bring me along to Pampanga when I was still a child, more than two decades ago, driving his yellow Beetle.

When he saw his kuya, there was no much fuss about their greeting. But I am very sure that they are both happy even just to see each other. Both are now bachelors again. His kuya told me that he is now eighty six years old, as he reads the morning paper sans eyeglasses on. They had nothing much to say to each other. Sometimes, the silence is even deafening. But I guess when you’ve reached an age as they have been, and when you’ve been with each other growing up, you don’t need much talk to convey what you feel for one another.

During the short few hours we’ve been there, there are some few things that impressed upon me.

I learned about the hardship my grandfather and his brother have been through. They grew up without a father. My grandfather was still inside his pregnant mother and his brother was just a year old when their father died. It was because of that void that my grandpa wanted that his children would never miss a father's love.

He recalls how, as children, they were raised by their grandmother. I think he mentioned that many times. Perhaps when you reach his age, you either repeat things a lot unconsciously, or you want to put emphasis on some things that are very important to you.

It makes me glad that I accompanied my grandpa. I realize that it gives him a little extra strength to visit his hometown, and to see his brother again. On the other hand, I also feel a bit sad when I try to analyze this trip. There would be not much left for these kinds of visit in the future. Sooner or later, each one of them would not be able to travel. If God would forbid, this could be the last time the brothers may see each other, or the last time my grandpa would ever have a look at his hometown.

It must be important to once in a while, go back to your roots. Visit your kinsmen, and pay respect to your elders. I might pay a visit to Abra one day soon.

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