A PRISON OFFICER’S DOMESTIC VIEW
DORIS, MY SISTER
My one and only sister, Doris, has achieved so much already. She is an indisputable scholar from the time she entered school as early in Kindergarten up to the time she worked for her doctorate degree in criminal justice administration. She has literally circumnavigated the world, has lectured to almost all countries in Asia, has a friend in every foreign country and a consultant to all technical schools in South East Asia. She has everything and lately, she almost got cancer. Luckily, she came at a time when such ailment can be prevented and she was spared from such a tragic fate. It was a signal actually for her to tone down from her tight and gruelling schedule. It was a sign that she must have to take it easy. She has learned early in life that scholarship is everything and scholarship means to live under the shadow of persistence, serious study and pressured lifestyle. She must know how to relax even if what she was taught early in life is not to slow down at all.
My sister is unica hija to our doting parents. She was Tatay’s apple and Nanay’s jewel. She has in her poise, in her discipline the erudition of our ancestors. We subscribed to her intellect as she bore the respect of the academe. She was also in our estimation our economic redeemer, a lifeline, a beloved member who can reclaim luck and redistribute fortune. She is well equipped to conquer the world. We could only watch her from a distance. We could only hold on to our temporary reign and await for the day of reckoning. She is our captain and our future. That early, my sister would have endured the weight of expectations. She has been relegated and duty bound to challenge, to compete, to struggle for us. Tatay was there of course to pave the way; nanay was there to soften the flings; well, I was there merely as a shadow of whatever is left to fend. We were a team and she was our best shot.
She knew the vagaries of tension and responsibility in all its applied expression. She is a single parent and recently, a sibling in charge of an ailing parent, prodigious children and remarkable grandchildren. When Tatay left us, she was depressed but she must fulfil her parental obligation and must carry forward whatever has been left behind. She would carry the day for her family, alone as she was and pressured at times in the school she happens to be an administrator. Intrigues and competition were everywhere and she must have to cope up with every technical detail that she would encounter.
My sister’s name, Theodora, was lifted from the Christian calendar on the date September 11, 1955. (Since then, on different years, the date would have significant, nay, chilling events appended to it. There was the bombing of the World’s Trade Center in New York on said date, and the birth of Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, as a case in point). But this in a way had nothing to do with her persona except that in celebrating her birthday nowadays, one cannot escape remembering also the events that happened. She was an exceptional child. She would spend her toddler years not in the playpen but the school of her brother during the kinder years. When it was her time to enrol she would eventually be conferred with impressive grades. She would continue her scholarship all throughout the elementary, secondary and tertiary years at the State University. Her graduation in college would be intervened by a series of domestic problems, like marriage and sickness of my parents. Nonetheless, she would persevere where she left and on she takes further the seriousness of scholarship until she graduated as one of those on top of the class.
She found herself recruited as an officer of then powerful First Lady, Imelda Marcos, during the Martial Law years. And she would become one of the most coveted staff of brilliant minds in government service. She stayed at the Ministry of Human Settlements for a number of years until the first couple was booted out during the Edsa Revolution. It was a turning point in my sister’s professional life. Suddenly, she was orphaned by her fellow scholars who were associated with the dictatorship and had to scamper out in search of reinvention. My sister laid low for a while and I took her to my friends in the Academe and there she found again her bearing with scholarship.
The years that followed were subdued and almost insignificant. She would pursue her parental duties to the hilt. She would work on token hours but would concentrate more in nurturing her growing brood. This at a time when her spouse would attempt to short cut enterprises to the detriment of her savings. They would found themselves badly in debt and this would push the spouse to go abroad to try his luck. He never came back and worst, never heard anything from him. Overseas work at that time was still a big gamble, a great threat and there was no government support as yet. Those with less luck become victims and were considered goners. My sister as a consequence has to fulfil even the other half of the responsibility and this was where my sister would shine. She has a knack to recover at the direst moment and this she would move up.
She would move from one academic institution to another, from the University of Life to a UN based Colombo Staff College. Here she would exude in her usual gait for scholarship and competence in administration. At times she would be disturbed by the intrigues and intramurals of petty professional jealousy but she would come out of it unscathed. She would be recognized until the agency would become her world. She would also be the toast of her friends and peers and eventually would be nominated to represent the agency in all their international conferences.
She rejoiced seeing the world. She was literally on international flight almost on a monthly basis. She could have earned her flight wings earlier than most pilots are at the rate she was moving. In a year’s time, she was more than what the Spanish conquistadores have done in their travels for 30 years! She has been in USA, in Asia Minor, in South East Asia, everywhere in world. And she was utterly delighted by such exposures. She has completed her education and has become a rounded professional. I was pleading for her, this time, to write a book. She owes the world and history this consideration.
Yet the travel bug has diminished her work and she would even multitask if only to express her unlimited enthusiasm until she felt something strange. She has forgotten her health, having been focused all through out with her cross- country lectureships. Her body waived and she must for a while recuperate. In an instant, she was already under medical examination and that forced her to lay low. That compelled her to check her pulse and everything about her physical fitness. That made her realizes that she could only stretch herself to some limits. She has indeed exceeded and mortally challenged the gods of adventure. This time around she must find time to contemplate and renew her contract with reality. Time to reflect and well, recharge if only to reclaim for lost time and adventure further.