Painting a Thousand Words: Selfie with Ate Viol

Viol (center) taking a selfie with Aunts Josie and Eva on her Android phone

As written on this blog's page "NANING",  my mother has been called a lot of names because she has been a lot of things to a lot of people.

In this post, she is "Ate Viol".  Auntie Jose and Auntie Eva are not related to us by blood but in keeping with Filipino (and other Asian) culture and out of respect, we don't call older people simply by their first names.  We end up calling everyone Aunts and Uncles, especially close family friends.

Auntie Josie and Auntie Eva were two of Ma's closest friends among her co-teachers when we lived in Philex Mines for 18 years.  She is "Ate" to them because she's one of the more senior teachers in the elementary school, having previously taught for 17 years in public schools in the province.

Pa passed away 3 months ago so here we find Ma in Baguio City visiting her two super close friends after traveling more than 700 kms. by bus.  Not bad for a 74 year old.  I do feel bad I couldn't pay airfare to make travel easier for her.

I am sure Ma will enjoy this visit so I kept reminding her to take photos on her mobile phone.

Here's what Auntie Eva told me via text message:

Alam mo ba Aboy na walang tulugan dito?  Kagabi madaling araw na kaming nag-dismiss.  Aga na naman kaming nagising kasi papasok ako... Grabeng bonding namin.  Sa Wednesday grand reunion namin.  Kita-kits kami nina Auntie mo Josie at Lerma, Jean at Rogie kaya pinapahinga ko muna siya.  Resume ang klase mamayang gabi.

I can imagine the fun and laughter they must have had.  I grew up watching them.  It is from them and other close family friends (all of them teachers or spouses of teachers) that I learned we don't really need a lot of friends, we just need the right ones.  My political convictions started as I watched them debating with co-teachers during breaks.  I watched and listened to them follow news of the EDSA revolution but from the point of view of Marcos loyalists -- something I would re-evaluate and mentally settle when I reach college.  It is these friends that helped Ma send 3 children to college at the same time while Pa was away in the Middle East.  They were friends who were always there for Ma, helping in every way -- emotionally, spiritually, socially, financially.  I grew up not worrying about anything in life despite a modest teacher's salary because Ma had the right friends.

Aside from all the benefits we received from Auntie Josie she also became my class adviser when I was in grade IV.  Ma was my Math teacher then.  All three of them were Grade IV teachers and I must say they were both feared and respected.  I am a testimony of this legacy.  But that would be stuff for a future post.

Right now I just have time to write that during that year Auntie Josie launched my love for reason and quest for understanding and knowledge.  She gave me one defining moment in class.  "Why are ducks suitable for life on and out of water?"  She asked me to remain standing until I was able to answer. I couldn't answer but I was trying to mumble.  I was limited by language.  English was the medium of instruction and I still didn't know then that what they walked and waded on water with were called "webbed feet".

"I know you know the answer", she said.

I couldn't find words.  "I won't let you sit until you answer.  I know you know the answer."  I mumbled but still could not blurt out an answer.

"Come in front", she said.  Then she asked me to get the chalk and draw my answer.  It was still one year before I would enroll in the mining company's first ever summer art classes so I still didn't know how to draw.  I did my best to represent a duck's webbed feet on the board.  Then she said "You see you do know the answer.  You just need to think and think hard."

From that day forward, the boy who only wanted to play all day started his life-long love for finding answers to life's questions and problems.  There are answers.  There will always be answers.  You can and you will find them.

Now that I think about it, I think that started this voyager's journey of learning life's lessons and solving life's questions and problems by all possible means - words, pictures, music, whatever means available and possible.

Throughout my life I have been on a romantic voyage of knowledge and how it practically impacts the lives of others.  Theory and praxis has been my unwritten goal.  I love learning, though I have not been a good academic.  Grades never motivated me but the practical effects of knowledge did -- how knowledge can  help people out of poverty, how knowledge can bring one closer to his Maker, how knowledge can make life easier and more meaningful.

So what's in a picture?  What's in a selfie?  A lot.  In this particular selfie, the smiles of teachers and friends whose influence will never end, whose influence started a voyage that will continue wherever it may lead this blogger.

"A man of many friends will come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
                                                                    -- Proverbs 18:24 (Lexham English Bible) BibleGateway

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  1. Wow. Maraming salamat dito, Kuya Aboy. :)

    1. Maraming salamat for reading, Cherry. :-) May blog ka pala. Di ko alam. yan, ma-bookmark at mabisibisita ko na. :-)

  2. blog blog-an pa lang kuya.
    nagresonate to sa akin, about life-long learning. :)
    ang galing po ng kwento kung paanong naging life-long learner kayo.

    1. Oo, nga mukhang life-long learning nga ang sinulat mo just 3 days ago:

      Ang sarap nga talaga matuto.

      Keep learning. Keep writing. You've just gained one more reader. :-)


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