Thursday, February 21, 2008
The storytelling tradition is one of the many cherished shards that that make up the rich mosaic of my heritage. I’ve been blessed to know those who came before me and have been afforded the chance to be an active participant in the continuation of the old ways. My yewyah (grandma) is definitely a master storyteller, and some of my keenest memories as a child were that of sitting at her knee, and listening to her recount the tales of diwatas, sirenas, agta…otherworldly beings that while seemingly whimsical at first hear, are really an observation of the nature of man and the world he inhabits. Fate. Destiny. Choice.
I don’t think I really appreciated the significance of folklore until much later, when I was in the throes of that inevitable “finding yourself” stage. Truth be told, as soon as I grew out of the Disney princess stage, I began to examine folklore from a harsh academic’s eyes. I was that type of academic who believed in proof and abided by statistics and probabilities rather than simply believing. In other words, I was a jaded government concentrator who believed that everything worth something must hold up well to scrutiny. I saw folklore, culture, and traditions as scholarly things, rather than as living things that are a part of people…and in turn, are shaped by people and their beliefs to help form their identity.
That all changed when I had to fulfill some of my core requirements outside my concentration. One of the requirements for that course was to compile a folklore collection by interviewing people. I first approached the assignment with a grain of salt; I figured I could just talk to some of my family and friends and type everything verbatim. Easy enough. What I didn’t expect was for the assignment to put into words and bring back into being the dormant native child that I once was. As I collected creation myths, tales of the first pineapple, and the like, I began to realize that I didn’t need to find myself; I just needed to retrieve myself.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Anna and the Blind Tobit, Rembrandt
Despite the fact that the room is swathed in darkness, and that the only source of light comes from the window, AND that Tobit is blind, I believe that Tobit can see the light, not just the darkness. I’d like to think that he can feel the warmth of the sun tickling his neck. The fact that the side of Anna’s face that’s directly hit by the sun is also the side nearest Tobit…well, wouldn’t that imply that they still choose to see that small patch of light—of goodness—in the midst of darkness?
I look at Anna and the Blind Tobit, and I see love. Hope. Oh, not the Hallmark type with three dozen roses, 4.5 Ascher-cut diamond rings, and horse-drawn carriages, butterflies, fairy tale Disney kind of love. I’m talking about real love. The kind of love where you cry, disagree about politics, frustrate each other…but also laugh, compromise, inspire, and stand by each other. The kind of love where the man puts down his shield and allows himself to cry on his lady’s shoulders. The kind of love where a woman feels most beautiful in her man’s oversized flannel shirt than in a slinky dress and fierce heels. The kind of love where forever is a word whispered on the deathbed, and not against the backdrop of violins and sunsets.
That kind of love.
And you know, I was lucky enough to have caught a glimpse of Anna and the Blind Tobit in real life. From February 2001 to November 2002, in fact. From when my da had a stroke until he died. Mom held da’s hand and whispered to him softly. Mom was there at the hospital and at the skilled nursing home every single day, from the time they opened til whenever they politely asked her to “get some rest”. She loved him, flaws and all. Loves him still. Da was her first everything, and so far, her only everything. I once asked her, you know, about three years after da passed away, “Why don’t you find someone else? You’re beautiful, and you’re young.” Mom just looked at me with those dark brown eyes of hers and smiled, “When I married your daddy, I promised to love, honour, and cherish him, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, even if death do us part.”
So, yeah…What is love? Well, I may not have enough words to capture it, but I have an image.
Anna and the Blind Tobit.
We must never permit the voice of humanity within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.