REMINISCING CHILDHOOD WITH MY SISTER
Our parents treated us separately. My sister was my father’s apple while mother looks at me as avocado. We were a closely knit four some in a new environment called Quirino District, later dubbed Project 2 in Quezon City. Then it was a sleepy town, vacant lots abound, grassy corners dot every street and yes, it was some kind of a subdivision where streets are named after fruits. We lived on 80 Naranjita street. It was flanked on the rear by Pajo Street and adjacent to Marang Street. Earlier on, children of Project 2 were already knowledgeable on every fruit in the universe—-durian, lanzones, chico, bignay, kubili, sineguelas, name it, we know it, we even know how to navigate each corner even for once during that time notwithstanding the fact that we have never seen some fruits although we already know the names by heart.
At home, my sister enjoyed the perks of a Papa’s girl—doted and appreciated in her every gifted move like reciting a poem, making an oration, singing and dancing. On the other hand, I was a Mama’s boy—tasked with dish washing, scrubbing the floor and folding beds. We grew up carrying the orientation of our respective parent. My sister became serious in her world view, in my case; the world was my television set. My sister loved school; I loved the street more than anything else. My sister was a perennial school participant; I was more of a lobbyist. She delighted to be with her fellow scholars, I was more at home with bullies—although I was never one. We were poles apart.
When I graduated from kindergarten and the school master handed over to me my diploma I felt wasted and about to melt in the glare of lights and ogling looks of parents in the audience. When I stepped down from the stage, there I saw my sister, running towards me, embracing me and was very excited as if she was holding on a trophy. I nearly collapsed out of embarrassment. I could vividly remember how mother saved my day that occasion. She coddled me, bundled my things and immediately brought me to my comfort zone—our kitchen, to continue with dish washing. I was revived!
Our elementary years were memorable, well, at least as far as the recognition which my sister constantly would receive. I don’t mind playing second fiddle to her. She worked for it anyway and in my case, I was having a fruitful session idling and having grand laughter with my street corner peer group all the time. It was a period of relaxation, of learning wits, of gaining wisdom right from the mouths of tough guys.
Secondary school was a revelation. My sister effortlessly proceeded to the State University. In my case, I had a hard time enrolling. My sister instantly became a state scholar. For once, I was also recognized in school. In my second year high school, I was conferred as salutatorian, second best. It took me a week to convince my parents, especially my father to pin the medal on me during the convocation. He was non-plussed and with suspicion went along with me. Even while pinning the medal on my breast collar, I would notice my father’s face swinging slowly from left to right, right to left. When I asked him why, he quipped “someone nearby might shout that he was robbed of the medal.” That was how low I was in the academic impression of my father. I share the same sentiment also. I discovered lately however that I was recognized as a consequence of the peace treaty entered by school administration with school bullies. That was not a joke. I was virtually leading the pack of bullies protecting my classmates and teachers from them by assuming as their godfather. I may be physically slim that time but I could regale bullies with stories of how cruel I am. I had this gift of demagoguery at a tender age.
My father immediately transferred me to another school—FEU, there to complete my secondary education. Meanwhile, my sister was making good. She was a stand out in her class initially and became a star.
In college, my sister was not only a star; she was already a celebrity in the college of public administration. In my case, I was admitted in Letran College where I was integrated with classmates who were equally a shoo in the world of wise guys. Both of us had a grand time in our respective milieu.
Both our environments prepared us to enter and succeed in our own career. In my sister’s case, the school. In my case, the prisons.