Remembering Ale and life in the past

By: Fernando Fajardo November 03,2017 - 08:09 PM

I spent the last two days in Dalaguete to remember and be near with Ale for the All Saints Day and All Souls Day respite. I had not much income from my first job as economics instructor for four years at the University of San Carlos and from my 20 years of government service with the National Economic and Development Authority and later as local development consultant and professor of economics at USC again. But with Ale I had everything I longed for in life and she did not need much from me also other than my love for her. Together with our four kids, Lanie, Bloom, Junjun and Dionaly, we lived a simple life and happy until death took her away from us last three years ago.

Neither of us smoked but lung cancer took her away from me just the same after 43 years of our blissful married life. This proves that lung cancer comes from many causes, especially to women. Pollution most of all. Among men, lung cancer is usually caused by smoking. November is lung cancer month and it is also for this reason that I remember and think of Ale again.

Why do I remember and think of Ale always? Mostly, it is because of her undying, boundless, and selfless love for me. She was only 17 days before going 16 when met and became lovers in the summer of 1969 in our village in Dalaguete. She was only 9 days before 18 when we got married in 1971 after completing her first year in college. I was just 23 years old and just completed my first two years as instructor of economics. With her pregnancy, we decided she postponed schooling in that year. By October 5, Lanie was born. She took care of her and decided that she would not go back to school yet until a year or two. But as common to young couples in our time, babies came one after another. By the time we had four, she decided she had enough and wanted to be ligated and devote all her time taking care of our children. With education, I know what life means in modern age for couples with many children. I agreed.

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, couples did not have to worry so much about having plenty of children. In our fishing village, work was not hard to find. Because, even if one has no fishing boat, one could always join any of the three fishing groups that operated in our village catching flying fish. Each needed about thirty to fifty men, with or without a boat, to help in catching flying fish as a group. One of these groups was led and organized by my father, Ines, and his partner, Manong Tanciong Belandres, husband of our close relative, Manang Opang, The second group was organized by Manong Paul Perez, close cousin of Ale’s father, and Manong Tekyo Entice, the brother of Manong Paul’s wife, Manang Opay. The third group was owned and operated by Manong Casyo Gelaga alone. He was my godfather in baptism, whose wife, Manang Tikya, also became our godmother when Ale and I got married. A fourth and fifth group were also organized later and more fishermen were needed. The partner of the fifth group was a friend of my father, who also became our godfather when Ale and I got married.

With these five fishing groups, work in our village was not a problem. This means that in our village going to school further after learning the rudiments of writing, reading and counting in grade school or elementary was not a necessity. An assured work also allowed most kids in our village to marry early. That so much was true for post war babies, the so-called baby boomers now, like me. But then as the eight child, my parents found me small and fragile. Unlike my only elder brother Bill, the seventh child, I was weak, and therefore not fit to fish. I had to go higher in school. My brother went fishing after finishing first year high school in Maasin. But when I went there to enroll in grade six in the following year, he decided to go back to school. Both of us went to Cebu City later to complete our college education.

Among my elder sisters, none reached first year high school, except Manang Dulcie who was born before my elder brother. But then she stopped because going to high school in the town proper in Dalaguete was a problem for lack of regular transport service. In Maasin when we joined our parents, she opened up a small village store and partnered with Oway Moding who was my godmother in baptism. The served puto maya and sikwate to the fishermen at dawn before they go to sea and in the afternoon when they return. Manang Dulcie went to Cebu City sometime later to learn sewing. There she met Elmer Jabien who finished later his engineering course and worked at SMC in Mandaue, after which they got married. My two younger sisters, Avelina and Debbie, also went to high school in Maasin and finished college eventually before they got married.

Life was simple then when I was young. There was always enough to everyone because people wanted only simple things. The village fiesta was most awaited by the young ones because of the weekend “baile” that starts many weeks before the fiesta. It was usually during these dances that they find their partners in life. It was also in Maasin in high school that I learned to dance. I like to dance with the sweet music with the girls so close to me but I loved to do the twist too and the cha-cha and bogie in simple steps. Ah, it’s nice to remember the happy past!

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TAGS: ALE, bassed, Cebu‬, column, in, life, Opinion, past, Remembering, THE

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