Just recently, I travelled with my father’s family (my grandmother, my aunt and uncle) to the countryside, the province where they had come from before moving to the city. It was a homecoming for each of us in different ways. It was for them, as they visited their hometown from the places they now call home: my father here in Manila, my aunt and grandmother from New York, and my uncle from the Middle East. It was a homecoming for me in a way as I tried to immerse myself in a rural culture far from what I have known from being born and raised in the city: slow, laid back, if somehow a little dreary. It was my third time going there, the first time as an adult, and the first time I truly made an effort to know the people and the town I’ve only been introduced to throughout the years in passing.
Most especially, it was a homecoming for my grandfather, who was at the center of it all. We went to the province to bury his ashes, to return him to the place of his birth, as was his last wish before lymphoma and a stroke took him. He desired, as do many Filipinos who grew up here and later emigrated elsewhere, to be laid to rest where he took his first steps as a child, the place that saw him become a man.
My grandfather was an honorable man. This is my opinion regardless of our rocky relationship over the past few years. He raised his children to be honorable and responsible, taught them and motivated them to work hard, and acted as the voice of reason in a house dominated by my sometimes overly emotional grandmother. He grounded his children, knew when to show kindness and knew when to put his foot down, though sometimes to frightening results.
He helped raise me and my brother and sister, and I still remember the little things he did with us when we were younger. I suppose that it’s always the smallest, most mundane things which we remember of people, because small as these may be, these are the things that touched our lives the most. And I hope I don’t forget anytime soon.
He was a carpenter by trade, but being a father and grandfather is how I choose to remember him. These photos are my tribute to him and to the town of Borongan, Eastern Samar.