It might be a cliche to say that my parents are my heroes. But they are. Despite having a long distance relationship for the longest time, they managed to stay together and I cannot stress enough the importance of my parents being together in my life. I have a complete family. But today, I am dedicating this column to two persons who were my heroes too, in more ways than I can ever tell you.
I grew up with my grandparents, the parents of my mother, in the humble province of La Union. My tatay and nanay, as I call them, were the ones who raised me. I was with them since I was 5 until I graduated high school. They are the people I adore the most.
My grandfather was a farmer during his younger years but I did not see him as a farmer. To me, he was the best cook. He cooked mean igado and dinuguan, dishes that make my mouth water up to now. I still savor the distinct taste of his viands, including the taste of the cup noodles he prepared for me in the morning before I go to school. When I was still too young to walk the empty streets of our barangay during dawn alone, he accompanied me despite the cold, despite him getting attacked with rayuma. He was a drinker and a smoker but he told us not to drink and smoke. Thus, I did not develop the said vices. I haven't gotten drunk in my entire 26 years of existence. I haven't even smoked a stick of cigarette. And I'm proud of this fact. My tatay gave up smoking when an aunt who lived with us became pregnant. He gave up more than 50 years of smoking packs of cigarettes one day and never looked back.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was a teacher. Every one in our place knows her. If she can run for barangay captain now, she'll win. That I'm sure of. She is a gracious, doting nanay who attended to my needs. She taught me all the things I need to know but the one thing that I treasured learning from her is the art of patience. In grade 4, I had a project in school - small baskets weaved from rolls of newspaper. I hated that project and I cursed the day I gave up on doing it. The night before the day of submission of the baskets, I managed to do four lousy baskets out of the 10 that was required. I went to bed saying "bahala na" in my head over and over until I fell asleep. And then I woke up in the middle of the night to a glow of candles in the corner of our room. My nanay was rolling the newspaper and weaving the baskets carefully and methodically as if she still has all the time in the world to do just that. And her baskets were beautiful and sturdy. She finished my project for me, or taught me how to do it properly. I couldn't muster the kakapalan ng mukha to pass her work as my own the next day. I asked for another day and did the baskets with great patience. They were not perfect but I like them just the way I did them.
They're the conservative kind of grandparents, people who dwell on the values of the past. They didn't raise me to be a Maria Clara but close enough (lol). And to me, that's not bad. In this changing world, where teenagers are too modern and too warped up in their sense of distorted reality, I am thankful of the way my gradparents raised me. Their values are old but they're the values this current world needs. My grandparents always act with dignity and respect. They're always conscious of their actions. They are kind yet guarded. They're private but loved by many. They are conservative yet understanding. They are old but they do not mind.
When I left for Manila and then to Saudi Arabia, they could have easily told me to stay with them because they're old and sickly and it's just the two of them living together in our house in the province. They could have appealed and made me feel guilty for sort of abandoning them by leaving but they did not do that. They told me to go and reach for my dreams, to do everything I can to be the woman I want to be. They understood that now that I'm old enough, I have a life of my own and carving a place of my own in this world, even if it means being away from them, is what matters most. The thing though is, wherever I may go, my place will always be with them. They did not just raise me. They raised me to be a good person.
It's a special moment for me when some people say that they want their kids to grow up like me. I just smile and beam because I know that my grandparents will be proud to hear that. They raised me well enough for others to see that I'm the kind of person they want their children to grow up to be. I'm not saying I'm perfect but I'm proud to say that I'm living this life with the good values my grandparents have instilled in me. You can't get that kind inspiration and teachings nowadays. Their acts of sacrifice and selflessness have made me a good person and that is why, they will always be in my heart. No wait, make that, in every pore and essence of my being.
See, I don't need heroes. I already have them.
► Read Janelle's previous articles here.