Recently, I told my mother that I had been sharing her and my father's letters here on my blog. She was quite pleased. Then she regretted that these were the only letters she had kept. All the others from their pre-married years were gone.
"Sayang at sinunog ko," (Too bad I burned them) my mother said. It seems that my father was quite a letter writer. A very romantic one too. You can tell.
So why did she burn them? According to my mother, her father required my father to bring his father to Los Banos before he could marry my mother, as was the tradition. Unfortunately, my father was unable to meet this demand. His father was hundreds of kilometers away and travel at that time was not easy and perhaps very costly.
"Ako naman ang magpapakasal," (I am the one going to get married) my mother quotes my father.
And so my father left Los Banos and went back to Manila. There was no formal break up between the two of them, just as they had no verbalized agreement that they were "officially" steadies. It was a case of what some people in the Philippines called M-U, for mutual understanding.
When my father left Los Banos, there was no word of him coming back. Angry and no longer expecting him to return, my mother burned his letters.
"Para que pa?" (What for?)
As destiny would have it, when the Japanese was defeated by the Allied Forces and my father re-joined the Army, he was sent on assignment to Los Banos. He sought my mother out just to see how she was. Finding each other still unattached, the romance quickly came back. They were back together, and this time for good.
"And magsuki madaling magkabilihan," (Regular customers/vendors easily make a sale) as my mother would say.
They got married and this time my grandfather no longer required him to bring his father. After all, he liked my father, who worked and guarded my grandfather's homestead for many months the year before in the tradition of paninilbihan. I guess my grandfather, a strict and domineering man in a small body, realized what a good son-in-law my father would be.
So there. This is why all the love letters you've been reading in this blog are from the time my parents were already married. Here is the last one.
My mother was expecting their third child and once again staying in her hometown of Los Banos. She gives a few instructions to my father, not knowing she was to give birth two days later.
I guess there was no need for letters after this one. By the time I was born years later (my parents had another child before me who died of polio before the age of 2), my mother no longer went home to Los Banos to give birth. She went to a hospital in Quezon City.
Feb. 27, 1952
Ling Aking Mahal,
Kumusta ang aking pinakamamahal sa lahat? Kung ako naman ay marahil alam mo na. Wala na akong inaantay-antay kund hindi ang araw ng aking pag-anak. ... Kung uuwi ang kuya sa araw ng Biernes o di kaya'y sa araw ng Sabado ay bigyan mo ng halagang limang piso upang ibigay kay suki. At kung sakali naman ikaw ay uuwi sa araw ng Sabado ay hingin mo nang bakasyon ang araw ng Linggo, para maipamile kita ng pang-ulam. Mahirap naman kung lagi na lamang magpapadala kay Indo, nakahihiya naman. Kaya kung maari ay umuwi ka sa Sabado. Kung inaakala mo lamang makabubuti. At ako nama'y maghihintay rin. Baka sakali.
Pinakamamahal mong Ling,
Feb. 27, 1959
Ling My Love
How is the one I love most? As for me, I think you know by now. I am eagerly waiting for the day I will give birth... If Kuya (Indo) is coming home here on Friday or Saturday, give him 5 pesos to give to (an unspecified vendor from which they buy stuff regularly, maybe on credit). And in case you are coming home on Saturday, ask to get a leave on Sunday too so I can buy foodstuff for you. It would be embarrassing to keep on sending stuff through Indo. So if possible, come home on Saturday only if you thing that would be the best. And I will be waiting for you too. Just in case.
Your most loved Ling,