Friday, September 17, 2010

4 - Letter to my Siblings - Sisters

Dear Jo,

It was  Christmas morning when you were born.  You were and still our best Christmas gift.  Everyone was happy.  I was five years old then, while Edwin and Cezar were eight and seven years old respectively.  Before you were born, I was the only girl.   Some people teased me that I am not the apple of  Tatay's eyes anymore, especially that you were a very pretty baby, and Nanay told everyone that you are "Baby Gina Lulubrigida'.

I was not threatened by your arrival as Tatay made me feel that I am the favorite child of all time, the most beautiful girl that ever walked on our planet, the smartest kid in the universe, etc.  Even as I know that I am not that superior of a human being, it made me feel good.  I did not suffer inferiority complex nor  did I become jealous of you.  Our five-year-gap made me protective of you.  I was proud of you as our parents and brothers are.  

Not only are you pretty but you have spunk.  I remember when we went on vacation to Manila,  (first time for you and Maritz, second time for me),  when you were only four years old.  Despite of the condescending attitude to us from our city relatives we did not feel inferior as they'd like us to feel.  Especially you.  Our boy neighbors teased you, started calling names because we have darker complexion.  I saw you  getting pissed off and you picked up pebbles from our grandmother's garden.  You threw pebbles at our bullying boy neighbors.  They reciprocated, and soon pebbles, stones and other toys rained on the garden on our side and up the porch on our neighbor's side.   I did not participate as it was Tatay's rule with us children to fight our own battles - that older or younger children allow a sibling to prove himself worthy to his/her opponent and nobody shall interfere unless the fight became violent.   It was you against the two boys who were older than you.  Of course our aunts and our grandmother were angry at us, for it never happened before:  it was a peaceful neighborhood until we came, they claimed!  In my mind  I was thinking  it was only peaceful because they allowed the neighbors to bully them. 

Lola with Maritz, Jo, Joseph and I

I really loved to play house with you and Maritz even when I was already in high school.  My friends teased me about it, but every time we had the opportunity, we played with rag dolls, paper dolls, or cheap plastic dolls.  We also played priest ((priestess?) when we  incorporated food in our games.  We used the food, usually thinly-sliced ripe guavas, as the 'host' in receiving 'holy communion'.   We did not have enough time together as I was left in Manila to study.  The little time we had during my vacation in our province were memorable, because of the food we shared - unripe papaya, sugar cane sticks, etc.  When you went for a vacation to Manila, I already finished college, was working in a construction company and was considered a  'rebel'.  How dare I became bold enough to have a boyfriend, our grandmother and aunts were outraged!  You cried, you worried that I'd run away during one of my confrontations with Nanay.  You told me to please stay.  

We attended your wedding in Iloilo and how sweet of you that until now you kept my gift of red house dress for you, even as it's so well worn already.  

You are an ideal wife to Franco and ideal mother to three well-disciplined boys, who are all taller than you now.    You are so generous of your time and material gifts.  Thank you so much.  You are a fighter as always but you remained so sweet to us your siblings.

Even now Jo, we don't really have enough time together.  You are busy with your family in Iloilo and I am busy with mine.  My dream is that someday, the three of us sisters would have time alone and just enjoy being sisters, that we don't have to worry about our husband and children left in the house by themselves. 

Be reminded always Jo, that I am here for you. 

Your loving sister,

Dear Maritz,

You are our youngest sister, and  you were so lovable a baby.  People said you were "the fairest of them all", "anak ng prayle", "bata sang Kano", etc.  Even now, you have very light and  pinkish skin tone and light brown hair which you dye very dark brown, it looks black,  (while I have jet black hair which I  dye light brown, hayz).  Even as a baby your laughter roared, a little unusual for so small and skinny baby.    You were so fond of grabbing asses and crotches; it was your way of teasing.   You talked non-stop even as you communicated using only one letter word - A.

In our place, one's value is always associated with physical appearances and you and Jo were the 'beauty queens'.  With your fair skin and Hispanic looks, you were the local Miss Spain during the Miss Universe contest when Miss Amparo Munoz represented Spain.  You were only 11 years old then, and it was the first time that our local folks were able to enjoy the color TV that was left by the sales representative in our house.  When she won,  her victory was like your victory and all our kababaryo rejoiced for Ms. Amparo Munoz and for you. 

When we are together, and also with Jo, nobody could tell we are sisters, especially today.  It's strange that  we don't have much physical similarities, even as we have the same mother and father! Some people  said that you and Jo were the beauties of the family, while I had the brains.  That's not true.  You have beauty and brains, although you were a 'lil bit of a late bloomer.  Jo, who is always declared a great beauty,   proved to have lots of common sense outweighing high academic grades that I boasted when I was young.  With the Filipino standard, I may not be a beauty, but I have proven that outside of the Philippines my dark complexion and small nose are not at all beauty flaws.  So, may I safely say that we three sisters may look different but we are all beauties, as beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.  
                                            From left:  Maritz, Jo and I

(Dear gentle readers, I'm sorry we're so anal about beauty and physical appearance.  Nanay,  our mom, placed great emphasis on our looks.  We sisters lived and 'die' according to Nanay's perception of beauty.  Like other Asians, Nanay preferred fair skin  over dark or brown skin.  Aquiline or 'high' nose is better than flat or small nose, etc.  I was always described as the "intelligent one" while my sisters were the "pretty one", "the fair one".)

Maritz, you are the epitome of a modern woman - you had good academic gradesyou have street smarts, lots of commons sense, and sophistication beyond your chronological years.   You have conquered your fears, you know your strengths.  Whenever my daughters consult me about job strategies or social skills,  I give them advice and always add, "think how Tita Maritz will react to such a situation".

I am proud of your accomplishments and I wish you all the best this world could offer.  

Your loving sister,

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