Monday, June 30, 2014

Shock of All Shocks

It's a blow to your brain and heart when something you always believed to be true is now completely something else.  My brother and sisters are going to be shocked!

We grew up in the U.S.  I'm the only child that was born out of the country.  My birth place is Iriga, Philippines. Back in 1956, Iriga was a village.  My parents and I left for the states when I was 2 years old. I visited Iriga in 1976, and it looked half village, half town.  Know what I mean? No high-rise buildings that I remember, and the only building that seemed to shine was the cathedral.  Not quite the modern city that it is today.  My siblings were born in Virginia and California.

Anyway, I just arrived home from a visit with my mom this morning.  I drove as fast and as safely as I could so I wouldn't forget the words my mom just told me.  My paternal aunt Virgie, from the Philippines, recently passed away, and my mom reminisced about my dad and his family.  Here's the shock:

My dad was never born into poverty!  His family actually owned lots of land and had a good life until . . .

Dad always said his family was poor.  Dad liked to say that there was no food to eat, the kids had no shoes, and there was no money to send them to school.  We're talking about 12 children in all, and my dad fell somewhere in the middle of the hierarchy.  I had always assumed that my grandfather left his very large family because he couldn't deal with trying to support so many children.  Well, that wasn't so.

When I visited the Philippines back in 1976, I trekked with my mom, brother and various cousins, aunts and uncles to the place where my dad grew up. We got off the gravel path and walked and walked toward groves of coconut until we came to a clearing.

Well, I'm sure there was other vegetation, but the towering coconut trees stood out because there were so many of them!  In the middle of all of that was a small bamboo structure on stilts with dry palms and such that made up the roof.  It looked ancient and feeble.  Well, that old thing was a house!  My relatives said this is where my dad grew up. Unbelievable, I thought!  That's twelve kids and my grandmother.  How does a large family live and sleep in that??  Mom said that was just one of many buildings -- I think mom meant houses, but who knows, there might've been buildings, too,  because after all, mom said the family was pretty well off in the beginning -- on their land until my grandfather started gambling and selling plots of land for gambling money.

My grandfather was an absent figure.  Dad said his father split to Manila to live a different life as a gambler. Gambling led to womanizing, and eventually to a woman he married.

Well, the thought that my father literally suffered from child neglect at the hands of his father has me honoring him so much more than before.  My father's name is Ananias, a name from the bible.  As a man-child, he worked odd jobs to put food on the table.  When the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands in the early 1940s, dad dropped everything to fight alongside the American soldiers.  Dad was 19 or 20 years old at the time.  He eventually joined the U.S. Navy, and with those earnings, he sent his youngest sister (the baby in the family) to study at the university, and married his love, my mom, Cristina.

As a footnote, before he passed away, my dad did forgive his father for his transgressions.

I love and miss you, dad.

Ananias Dimabayao Manaog
January 23, 1923 - July 23, 2008

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how much we continue to learn about family -- even after we feel like we know all there is to tell! I love those photos too!


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