Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sunrise on the Farm - Anecdotes of my Childhood

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Farm Life Mural, painted from childhood memories by the author 

Staying put on the farm -  is that all you aspire for?

“Buy me a tractor,” I asked by dad,  “And I will not look for a job. I’d stay on the farm.”

 “Is that all you aspire for?”  My father replied. It was the turning point of my life.  I left the farm and went on to pursue my studies, later joining the government service, and after early retirement, becoming a university professor.

Dad is now long gone and only my sister is overseeing the farm.  One time while visiting the farm, I asked my eldest son, Marlo, “Do you like to stay here and manage the farm?”  He fell silent and I did not utter another word.

I stopped schooling to be with my dad.

I stopped schooling in Manila, so I went home to San Vicente, arriving there on a Sunday at dawn.  Instead of directly proceeding to our house, I dropped at the church through the main door.  In the distance a man was standing, stooping, his nape showing the marks of old age.  I wondered who the man was, and to my surprise I found out he was my dad.  I did not know he had grown that old.  I said my prayers, and left with a heavy heart. 

It was at home that my dad and I met after the mass. He knew it was not yet school vacation, but he was very happy to see me.   I did not tell I saw him in the church that morning. Later I told my plan not to continue my studies anymore because I wanted to be with him.  He just felt silent.

The following morning he prepared our two bikes.  “We are going to Banaoang,” he said in an aura of confidence.  Banaoang is a mountain pass through which the mighty Abra River flows, where bamboo from the hills are sold in quantity. We were going to build a flue-curing barn.

The going was easy at first, but the distance and the uphill part were exhausting.  Dad gave up before we reached our destination.  “Get a rope and pull my bike.  Let’s go back home.” He sat down in the shade of a mango tree. When we were rested we slowly pedaled back home. Both of us were silent the rest of the day. 


I stayed with my dad until the end of summer working in the tobacco barn we put up. I went back to Manila the following schoolyear to continue my studies. I always pass the highway dad and I once took, and there under  an old mango tree, I would be seeing a man resting in its shade, stooping, wrinkles in his nape showing old age.    

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