This being the month of February, I am serializing love letters between my parents when they were newly married. I want to preserve them for my clan and family so that we will always remember the kind of lovers my parents were.
The letters were written between 1947 to 1952 when my father, Fred, moved to the big city (Manila) in search of a job. Meanwhile, my mother, Emma, stayed in her hometown of Los Banos, Laguna with her family and their first child, my sister Fremma.
I tried my best to translate the letters originally written in Tagalog into English for the sake of my children who have grown up in Canada. I am not a translator and I admit some of the thoughts and emotions in the original will be lost in translation. But I'll do my best. The English translation follows the Tagalog original. Here's the first one...
#10 Ruiloba, Nagtahan, Manila
February 6, 1947
Em' Aking Mahal,
Bago ang lahat ay tanggapin mo ang mga matatamis na halik na tanging pabaon ko sa aking liham, at madadatnan naman kayong lahat na pawang maligaya at walang karamdaman. Kung ako naman ang iyong tatanungin, ay awa nang Maykapal ay wala rin naman akong nararamdaman maliban sa kaunting sipon.
Mahal ko, tayo ay magpasalamat at magdiwang kay Bathala at dumating ang araw na ating hinihintay. Hindi ko masabi sa iyo ang laki nang aking tuwa nang ako'y makapasok sa trabajo. Tayo ay kinaawaan din. Naluluha ako sa tuwa nang kahapon ay sabihin sa akin nang hindi ko man lamang nikikilalang driver na nagtatanggapan dito sa pinapasukan ko.
Una'y nagmanejo ako ng jeep na pampasahero, ngunit hindi ako nagtagal pagkat inirikuminda ako nang isang chauffeur na ako raw ang magmamanejo sa cotche ni Sr. Quintin Paredes, kinatawan nang Abra (Congressman). Kaya't kay Sr Quintin Paredes ako ngayon nagmamanejo. Hindi ko akalain na makapagmanejo ako nang bagong modelong cotche. Ngunit nang ako'y tanungin ay sinabi kong matagal na akong namamanejo nang di usong sasakyan kaya't pumayag na rin. Hindi ko pa matiyak sa iyo kung ilan ang aking sasahurin pagkat ako ang tinatanong kung magkano ang ibig ko ngunit wala naman akong sinabi. Ang sabi ko lamang ang ibigay nilang tulong sa akin at sa aking pamilya ay taos puso kong pasasalamatan. Dito sa akin ay walang alalahanin pagkat sa pagkain ay libre. Sa tulugan ay kung ano ang gusto ko.
Emma ng buhay, hindi ko matiyak sa iyo kung kailan ako makakauwi pagkat ang aking pinagmamanejoan ng cotche ay araw-araw lumalabas. Ang damit ko ngayon ang problema pagkat sa lagay kong ito ay kailangan malinis lagi ang suot. Biruin mo, itong amo ko ngayon Big Shot, isang tanyag na abogado, isang kinatawan o Congressman nang Abra, kailangang akong malinis pagkat panay na matataas na tao ang kanyang kasama sa cotche.
Em', marami pa sana akong ibabalita sa iyo ngunit baka wala na akong sasabihin sa iyo pagdating ko riyan. Bukod dito ay nagmamadali ako pagkat wala kaming tinitigilan. Tinatanung nila ako kung gusto ko raw kunin kayo rito ngunit sinabi kong wala pa tayong pampasahe.
Em, mahal ko, hanggang dito na lamang at tanggapin mo mahigpit na yakap at halik ko sa iyo at ihalik mo rin ako kay Fremma. Kumusta na lamang sa lahat diyan walang liban.
Ang mapagmahal mong asawa
#10 Ruiloba, Nagtahan, Manila
February 6, 1947
Em' my love,
Before anything else receive my sweet kisses which are all I can send with this letter. May this find all of you happy and in good health. If you will ask me, by God's grace I am all right except for a mild cold.
My love, let us thank and rejoice in God because the day we have been waiting for has come. I can't tell you enough the great joy I felt when I found a job. God had mercy on us. I had tears of joy yesterday when a driver I didn't even know told me that there was an opening here where I now work.
At first I worked as a driver of a passenger jeepney, but I did not last there because a driver recommended me to be the driver of Mr. Quintin Paredes, congressman of Abra. So now I am driving for Mr. Quintin Paredes. I never thought I would be driving a latest model car. But when I was asked (during the job interview), I said I had been driving old vehicles for a long time, and I was accepted. I cannot tell you exactly how much I will earn because when I was asked how much I wanted, I did not mention any salary. I simply said that whatever they can give to help me and my family I will be very grateful. My food here is free. Lodging is up to me.
Emma of my life, I cannot tell you for certain when I can come home because the man I drive for goes out every day. My problem right now are my clothes because in my situation I have to wear clean clothes all the time. Imagine, my boss is a Big Shot, a well-known lawyer, congressman of Abra. I have to be clean all the time because everyone who rides with him in the car are people in high places.
Em', I have many more things to tell you but I might run out of things to say when I get there. Besides, I am in a hurry here because we are on the go(?). They were asking me if I want to bring you here but I said we still don't have money for transport fare.
Em, my love, this is all for now and receive my tight embrace and kisses and kiss Fremma for me. Regards to everyone there, no exception.
Your loving husband,