Welcome to my blog and thank you for clicking this page! 🙂 I tried to introduce myself in six words which I posted at the left hand side of this blog but if you want to know more about me then you’ve come to the right page.
Random facts about me:
1) I am a Filipina, co-mom of two beautiful teens who are actually my orphaned niece and nephew. Just a co-mom because they have other moms looking out for them.
2) My love affair with reading started when I was four, rather, two months before I turned four, thanks to my sister who taught me how (to read).
At that age, I was particularly fond of reading Pinoy works such as Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo’s Sa Pula, Sa Puti (For the Red Rooster, For the White Rooster), a one act comedy play about cockfighter addicted to cockpits. There was also this particular story about a young boy whose mother was dying which hit me really hard. They had no money for neither food nor medicine so the boy gambled by playing kara y krus [toss coin] with the other children. Lady luck smiled at him one day enabling him to buy food and medicine but he went home to a house full of neighbors praying for his mother’s departed soul. I also loved Efren Abueg’s Mabangis na Lungsod, another award winning short story about the street kid Adong who begs for food and money in front of Quiapo church only for Bruno to take all his money away at the end of the day.
I guess I’d had enough reading about tragic stories I started reading Tagalog romance books at the age of seven. I picked up my aunt’s copy of “Pag-ibig, paalam na nga ba?” by Helen Meriz and never looked back. My favorite Pinoy romance novelists included Helen Meriz, Gilda Olvidado, and Martha Cecilia.
3. I do not deal well with losses, maybe because I lost many people dear to me even before I can truly understand the word.
a. For instance, my mom died of aneurysm when I was only 10 days old. That day, I also lost a father and a brother. I would not see my dad until I turned fourteen, my brother Joseph (Kuya Jojo) when I was thirteen.
b. When I was nine, my father figure was stabbed by a drug addict when he stepped into the veranda to take a breath of fresh air. Maybe looked at the stars that night and contemplate about his life because it was his birthday. He died three days later.
c. Not over a year later both my maternal grandparents (who reared my sister and me) died in a space of twenty-two days.
d. We were left under the care of our uncle and aunt (my mom’s youngest sister). In the wake of my grandparents’ death, my uncle started beating everyone in the house who broke his rules particularly his four-year-old son Jojo (first name Wilfredo but nicknamed Jojo because he was his father’s junior). He would whip him using an un-insulated electrical wire, or with anything he could get his hands on until he was black and blue. Sometimes he would tie him with a rope and hang him upside down sometimes he’d be placed inside a sack. Sometimes he’d be tied in a post in the middle of the living room and get whipped in front of us.
Said cousin died weeks before he turned eighteen. When he died, I learned how to cry because in my dreams I would relive the days of torture he went through and perhaps because I couldn’t cry as a kid – afraid that I would also get the lashing – but during these dreams I would cry in my sleep. Although perhaps howl is the better term.
4. As a result of the beatings, I left home at thirteen to live with various other relatives. Settled with my father and his second family at fourteen. Left them at sixteen. Long story. 🙂
5. Finished my high school, college, and master’s degree through various academic scholarships. When I was in college, students and professors alike thought I was rich. I’d get comments like: ‘Why are you on scholarship when you’re rich’ and I would be like: ‘I’m an orphan practically homeless if not for the dorms.’
6. I come off as either a snob or shy. I’m neither. I just don’t speak when I have nothing to say or not being spoken to.
7. When I was in college, my terror professors call me stonehearted.
8. I have a best friend since birth (only a year older than me) who professes she’s my number one fan. And she’s not talking about my writing because she hasn’t read any of them. LOL. The thing is, I am the fan here … of hers. I probably won’t be the person I am today if not for her. She used to talk my ear off during my moments of shocked silence and while I didn’t understand half of what she said, these talks helped me get back to reality.
9. My family and I had it rough these past five years. Rough, actually, is an understatement.
a. In July 2010, my brother-in-law Kuya Jojo (nicknamed as such because again, he was his dad’s junior) died of aneurysm.
b. A month after I miscarried.
c. And as if were those were not enough, two months after my eight-year-old nephew Jonrae (Ate Mae’s son) fell from the stairs (only two steps down but he hit his head hard on the floor) resulting to his undergoing a craniotomy.
d. June 7, 2011 a ten-wheeler truck (or was it eighteen? The truck was said to be weighing 4T with approx. 30T cargo) rammed the mini-bus my husband and I were riding, right to the part where my husband and I sat.
It took seconds for my brain to register what happened. Sure I heard the screeching noise; I hit the back of my head at the headrest only for it to bounce back and hit my husband’s head (who was sitting to my left) because our driver had to hit the brakes when the bus careened a few feet away. After that it was like time froze and there was this moment of silence before everything seemed to be happening all at once.
Several adults screamed, children howled, and somebody screamed “I can’t move, I can’t move.” Or was it, “My husband can’t move” maybe both. I, on the other hand, was too busy trying to breathe and trying not to puke all over the place. I had both my hands on my head and I was staring at the gap on the floor near our feet which was so not there before the crash when my seatmate asked, “Am I bleeding?”
I took in his bleeding mouth and failed to respond, I stared at him open mouthed as my husband told him, “Yes, you are.”
The truth is, I was having a mental freak-out and I was asking in my head, wtf, why are you bleeding? Is everyone bleeding? Am I bleeding? Is my husband bleeding? I think it was only then that my brain registered what happened.
e. March 2012, hubby underwent an emergency appendectomy.
f. August 2012 a dear friend of mine died. He was twenty one.
g. October 3, 2013 my uncle, my mom’s brother who helped provide for my sister and me when we were kids, died of heart attack when he went to check on his neighbor whose house/building caught fire. He tried to convince them to evacuate the place and leave the rest to the firefighters.
My uncle lived helping the family and died doing what he did best: helping.
h. August 2014 my brother got hospitalized. He had colitis when he was four, resulting to the removal of part of his intestines but this condition rendered his intestines vulnerable to inflammations and such.
i. November 26, 2014 my sister-in-law Ate Thess lost her battle with cancer.
j. During Ate Thess’ funeral, my elder sister Ate Mae told me she sometimes feels like she is drowning whenever she drinks water. This year, she was advised to undergo an operation for her goiter but she’s refusing to.
10. I’m trying to deal and move on, be more accepting, be better in dealing with my losses. I try not to freak out and hope for the best instead when someone I love gets sick. After all I do know that I don’t have a monopoly to pain and suffering and in the grand scheme of things, I’m just one of the many. I’m trying to stand back up after each fall and get back on track, to the present and not live in the past.
Two words though: it’s hard. But then nothing in this life is easy. And when it comes down to it, no one gets out of this life alive anyway, but I’d rather go down fighting.
Okay, I totally tried to put happy stuff. I’ll try harder next time. 😀
Check out Junying Kirk’s interview on Josephine here:
http://www.junyingkirk.com/?p=1661 [Interviewing a Publisher: With Persistent and Obdurate Josephine Litonjua]
You may check her book, Brightest, here: