Saturday, 8 February 2014

Wrath and Revenge

woke up from a disturbing dream.  In the dream, there was a commotion, and from a window I saw Lolo Dinong, now dead in real life, demonstrating the hazy details of an accident. I heard him say that somebody died. And then my mother came into focus, while in the background I see my brother packing clothes in a small luggage bag.  My mother announces, "Your daddy dearest died, he got hit by a truck. "  And my reaction in the dream was, really? I had a few seconds to digest the news then told my brother,  "I'm coming with you. Now we can get even."  I remember in the dream how my brother searched my face for something. Sadness? Regret? And I remember as strongly, in that dream, what I felt-- wrath, a directive for revenge.

At this point I woke up. Perhaps the dream went on some more but only the  parts above are what I remember.  It felt strange waking up from that dream.  First, because I usually don't remember my dreams.  Second, because I was surprised and shamed by the lingering wrath my dream self had.  Now, I find myself  writing this piece to sort out the can of worms the dream opened.

My father and I are estranged.  

The reason is simple yet  complicated. He annulled his marriage to my mother without informing her.  I know (yes, I researched), that an annulment can be had without contacting the spouse if it can be proven that they have had no means of communication for a number of years. But that was not the case for them.  My mother lived and still lives in the house that my father and I bought in  Paranaque.  All my savings when I worked in London went to that house.  So clearly, he could have informed my mother, she could have laid down her terms. She could have had a say in the process.

  But my father, he only told me about it after the annulment was finalized.  He had one of his brods apply for the annulment in one of the courts in Southern Mindanao ( I know not because he told me but because I researched about it.) He told me while I was on  my two weeks vacation in Davao from Seoul.  While I was busy building  the bake shop/ gift shop in front of his house in Davao.   After he told me about the annulment, he said something like,  I am telling you now so if you want, you can still have a change of plans.  At that time, I have plunked down 150k to fix the shop structure, buy a split-type aircon,  installed cabinets and repaired the roofs at the back  kitchen of his house.  I have also bought 200k worth of Korean goodies as the shop's inventory.  All in all, I have invested what was my savings from half a year's work in Korea. To my mind,  with that amount of time and money invested, it  was no longer an option to have a change of plan.

And why did I think of putting up a shop in Davao? So I could have roots there.  So I could be near my father.  I thought the plan was still the same: wait for my brother to finish college in LB, and then we can all relocate to Davao.  Apparently, he had a new girlfriend   whom he wanted to settle down with and have made new plans.  Perhaps, he wanted a fresh start, as it was oh so easy for him to change his plans without informing us.   

So kailan mo sasabihin kay Mommy?  And he replied, Bakit pa?  At that time, I suppose I was blinded by hope and his empty promise that nothing will change in our relations. And because I was stupid and dumb enough, we agreed to keep the annulment a secret for a while.  My brother was then in his final year at UPLB and we didn't want him (or his grades) to be affected.  And my mother, well, at that time I know that she thought  her separation from my father was temporary.

I, the responsible first born, the stupid daughter, became the keeper of secrets.  The anger came simmering.  It wasn't a flash of rage.  It was the slow realization of how unfair it was for my mother, my brother and me.  If it was an annulment he wanted, he could have at least had the decency to discuss it with my mother so they could have laid down the terms.  Instead, just because he can, with his connections, his money and his law degree, he chose the easier way out.  The one that people with no balls choose.  It is really no different from the mindset of all those corrupt crooks in the Philippines.  And it is the one thing I have vowed to never do in my life: Just because you can get away with doing something unjust does not give you the license to do it.  The defining principles of our lives are always personal.  We form them from difficult experiences. And for me, I have learned this: The true test of decency, of goodness is this: If you are presented with opportunities to gain unfair (and/or immoral) advantage over others and you still chose to reject them, choosing to be right rather  than win in an unfair manner.

My mother,  she is okay now.  Recently, on her birthday, we treated her to a sojourn in HK.   On that trip, it was a bit jarring to see her passport with a different surname from us. But she's fine.  She laughs a lot, has gained some weight, and has her own set of friends in the neighborhood.   Brad, my brother and I would often kid her relentlessly about finding a boyfriend for her.  She'd retort, Masaya na ako ano, kukuha  pa ba ako ng batong ipupukpok ko sa ulo ko?   

Yet my heart remembers the late nights, with me living in faraway Seoul, when she would YM me to request that I call because she's sad and she needed to talk to me. I'd listen silently to her wails, let her cry and pour out her sadness and frustrations.  It was months before these crying sessions stopped.   And I understood then that my grief as a daughter was nothing compared to her pain.

  I would like to think that God sends us angels to help us through difficult situations.  Because he sent us Brad, my first cousin on my father's side.  I got him out of Ilocos to manage the shop in Davao, and when I decided to leave Davao, Brad chose to come with me. (Short story about closing the Davao shop: got into an email fight with my father's gf, the good father asked me to apologize to the gf or else. I chose the " or else " and packed the shop up and went back  to Manila).  Brad became the constant companion and confidant of my mother.  In time,  he became my mother's third child.  The one who now answers to my questions of pangangamusta: "Don't worry Ate, everything's under control.". I know his secret dream of becoming a successful xxxxxxx and  though we're going about it one slow step at a time, I hope I can support him to have a go at it. 

A couple of months ago, a friend and I  were talking about the drive that pushes us to  balance our day jobs with our entrepreneurial pursuits, why we were both bent on becoming successful.  I said I was doing it for my mother and to prove to my father that we can have a happy and comfortable life without him.  I remember the friend's advice: Jo, dapat gawin mo yung ginagawa mo dahil gusto mo hindi dahil may gusto kang patunayan sa tatay mo.  I realize that the friend was right.  Not too long ago, my form of revenge was the kind where I would be so successful  that my father would wish that he was still part of our lives.  My friend's advice ran through my mind while I was in Manila.  Then I realized that our family of four --- Mom, Kiko, Brad and me, we were happy. My Mom is okay, my brother, he is doing well in his career and is still the loving son and brother who treats Brad and Mom to out-of-town trips every once in a while.  As for me,  I am still here in Madrid, allowing my wanderlust self to run free, enjoying my day job while  writing on the side and laying down the stones for my soon-to-be business empire.  Each of us, we still have our individual dreams and goals. The wrongs in the past, these will never be erased, and there are times when a rivulet of pain shots through when a memory surfaces from out of the blue.  But it's easier now to sweep away those memories, easier not to dwell on what was wrongly done, not to question too much why  it was done.  Because, looking at us, we have managed quite well. 

No, this piece isn't about wrath or revenge.  A story like ours, a family broken by a father's search for happiness away from us, it's no longer as earth-shattering as before. It happens, shit happens.  Yet for those of us who go through it and are left behind, the heartbreak is like no other.  It defines and marks us, and if we're determined enough to go forward, it can show us the path to becoming better.


  1. After reading the piece, how come I felt...bitin? Was it intentional that the blogger left out the part where she's supposed to paint in vivid color her descent to the darkest abyss of emotional hell? Aww shucks. But luckily for me I think this is just a blog, not a magazine piece, coz I probably would not be thinking straight for a while if she did, because it sorta has a parallel in my own life. Nice one sistah.

  2. Kuya! Thank you for reading this! I remember your stories too! I did not want to dwell on my pain much Kuya, baka kasi magiiyak ako eh haha! But I was working at GS that time and I know my boss noticed that I would cry in my seat ng bigla bigla and dedma na lang sila.


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