Monday, November 30, 2009
My Mom, The Author.
I used to joke Mommy, with hurt in my voice, “why didn’t you give me your payat genes?” I was referring to her special gift of gobbling sweets and carbohydrates without gaining an inch on her waist. Whereas I, her bratty bonch, have accepted my fate of diet pills, crash diets and gym sessions just to keep insecurities away. I learned to accept eventually that I was going to be chubby all my life. Tough luck, huh?
But this doesn’t mean I didn’t inherit anything good from her. In fact, I have a lot to thank her genes for. I got her unflinching “work before play” attitude; her go-getter stamina, a zest and passion for life and...according to her, a creative flair for words.
My mom writes like she breathes and eats. She conjures words and phrases like she stirs and throws ingredients in a pot of stew.
And I’ve got to admit, growing up with a writer for a mom made my life “more interesting” in school. Hey, don’t get me wrong, she didn’t write anything for me. She wanted me to sweat it out like the rest of my classmates. That’s how great a mom she is! Well…let’s just say she edited me and edited my essays well, making masterpieces out of relatively “ho-hum” compositions.
But in college, I started attending more scriptwriting classes than creative writing ones. Perhaps, it was a conscious or subconscious effort, knowing that I could never measure up to my mom as a creative, feature and technical writer. I carved my own niche, but I realize I wouldn’t be a great TV Writer now if not for my mom’s merciless editing and bashing, her gift for finding better words and syntaxes, which still amazes me to this day.
Knowing all these all this time though, didn’t prepare me for the wealth of emotions I felt the day my mom launched her first book—IN ANOTHER DRESS last November 27 in UP, Diliman. Under the pseudonym AnnaManila, also the namesake of her blog ode2old.blogspot.com, my mom wrote mostly about retirement jitters, the pains and joys of growing old, always with a dash of humor and a relentless quirky tone that can topple any top magazine editor-in-chief.
The night before my mom’s launch, and as I read on, page after page of my mom’s stories in chapter two (Whimpering, Simpering, Blundering Youth), I realized that even though my mom and I are very close, as in girlfriends/BFF-kind-of-close, there are still so many parts of her I didn’t know.
I knew her only as my mother— the working mom, the caring mom, the worrier mom. She told me she came from Tondo, sported pigtails in high school and liked eating Horlicks. But I never saw this shy, insecure girl, who pined for her father’s approval and her sister’s recognition. I never ever saw my mom as a struggling colegiala, who wanted to gain new friends and be “ensconced in college society”. Never imagined my mom, my dear, loving mom, grieving over childish mistakes.
I never imagined what my mom went through, living in Tondo, raised in a lower middle class home, studying and working at the same time, raising a brood of 6 while balancing a career-- what my mom had to go through just to be the strong and talented woman she is now. To be my mother that she is now.
As I continued to leaf through the pages, I felt a surge of emotion overcoming me. The night before the launch, mom was in full panic mode.
What if they hate my book?
I hate my book!
I hate my hair!
What if too few people attend? What if there’s too many?
What if I stutter, what if I fall, what if--!!!!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to control myself any longer, even as I planned to prepare a small speech at the launch. There was no better time than this, I thought to myself.
Tears started to well in my eyes as I told her, “Ma, this is a great book. I’m so proud of you.”
Mommy replied with a tight embrace. “Now, I don’t feel so nervous about the launch anymore. Thank you my bonch.”
Stripping myself of biases, being a book-lover and my mom’s toughest critic as well, I can honestly and with all sincerity say that AnnaManila wrote a great book. Any reader, regardless of age, class, gender and status will surely cry, laugh, sigh and daydream with AnnaManila. For in four chapters, and forty-eight stories, AnnaManila succeeds to “undress” herself, and speak from the heart. In the end, it’s “another dress” we’d fit over and over again, and never get tired of.
As for the daughter in me, I thank my mom for always being there to edit not only my words, but also the work in progress that is me.
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