I am from the rough-hewn earthen water jug with the broken handle, from scuttling fiddler crabs and cloudy coconut vinegar stored in recycled whiskey bottles.
I am from the solitary bungalow like a beached M/V Samuel amid the mangrove swamps. I am from the kalachuchi and the habagat. I am from the novenas and fiestas, and the dimple on the left cheek, from Veruja and Grand Uncle Onoy.
From “you’ve got to eat your supper or else your kalag will leave your body to prowl in the kitchen” and “there’s a hut on the moon where Aunt Cat lies on a gossamer hammock made of cobwebs.”
I am from Villalimpia, Loay in the island of Bohol and unknown villages in Catalonia, Spain and Guangdong, China, and from tinolang bangus with kalamunggay and boiled green bananas.
From women plowing the rice paddies and volunteer grade-school teachers. From empty stomachs and the prayerful weaving of sedge mats by moonlight and foraging mushrooms and seashells.
I am from Cagayan de Oro, the City of Golden Friendship, from the indefatigable faith to take flight again with phoenix-wings after, soon after every downfall.
*kalachuchi: frangipani habagat: monsoon kalag: spirit tinolang bangus: milkfish stew kalamunggay: moringa