Tag Archive | Joshua

Story of a boy

“Manang, anuno imong ingbubuat?”

I pulled myself away from my thoughts and looked up at the kid, around 12 years old, who appeared in front of me as I sat on my usual spot at the beach, writing and listening to music. It took a bit of effort, with my limited Cuyonon, to figure out that he wanted to know what I was doing.

“Nagsusulat lang,” I replied with a smile, recognizing him to be one of the two boys who had shyly hovered around the other day until one of them got up the courage to come up and ask my name. Apparently content to discover that the newcomer who was always sitting alone by the sea was named Abigail, they’d both drifted off eventually.

But  this afternoon, there were more of them, and they huddled in a group at some distance behind me, animatedly conversing in rapid Cuyonon as the representative returned and reported that I said I was “just writing”. After a while, he reappeared.

“Anong sinusulat mo?” He was switching to Tagalog now to make it easier for me.

They wanted to know what I was writing. I discarded the idea of trying to explain the concept of blogging, so I stuck with, “Yung mga naiisip ko lang”. Just my thoughts.

His forehead creased at this reply, and he went back to the others. I waited to see what the next question would be. After some time, and some laughter and teasing (boys’ mischief sounds the same in any language), he was back.

“May gusto raw makipagkilala.” Someone wants to meet you.

Ah. Apparently, the issue of my literary endeavor has been abandoned for something more interesting.

“Okay.” This answer earned a grin, and he was off again like a shot.

A little later:

“Pwede raw ba ngayon?” Could he do it now?

I laughed. I couldn’t help it, this was too cute. “Sure,” I smiled.

He returned, sooner than I expected, and alone. “Pwede raw ba siyang lumapit?” Can he come up and approach you?

Adorable. I tried my very best not to laugh again. “Oo naman,” I assured him. Of course he could come close. The ridiculous image of Queen Esther and the king in reverse popped into my head.

While I was waiting for whoever it was to get his fill of encouragement from his buddies, MYMP’s Torpe Song #5 came up on my phone’s playlist. I looked at it in disbelief, then hurriedly set it to mute. The poor kid might think I was mocking him.

The footsteps that came up behind me were heavier than I expected, and I turned to see a teenaged boy older than the others. He sat on the grass with me and extended his hand.

“Ako nga pala si Manuel San Diego*,” he said, blushing furiously. His hand was cold and more than a little damp.

Tall, dark, and lanky, Manuel so strongly reminded me of my 14-year-old brother Joshua that I wanted to give him a hug and ruffle his hair. I wanted to lend him my handkerchief for his perspiration. I wanted to give him pointers on how to talk to girls. Instead, I settled for smiling and telling him my name, though I’m sure he already knew.

Manuel floundered about for a while, trying to make awkward conversation that I gamely joined in. His resemblance to my little brother was giving me a funny sort of tenderness, and I didn’t want him to be embarrassed. However, when his supporters behind us started calling out the words “cellphone number”, I decided it was time to make a graceful exit.

Taking my leave as nicely as I could, I told him I had somewhere to go. “It was nice to meet you, Manuel,” I said sincerely, hoping he could take a sense of confidence from the encounter.

Heading towards the sea, I remembered being that age, not too long ago, when attraction was awkward and embarrassing, but also simple and fun. The games that grown ups played, the games that I could never master, seemed needlessly difficult and complicated.  I was sorry to leave my spot on the beach, and sorry to feel disappointed eyes on me as I walked away, but I was the wrong age for Manuel. I’m the wrong age, I think, for anyone right now.

 * name changed


Day 4 — Your Siblings

To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.

~Clara Ortega

Dearest Ditse,

Hey. How are you downstairs, just a few meters away from me? 🙂

Do you know how much I love being this close to you? Back home we always ended up in different schools and with different crowds. Different, that’s kind of the word for us, isn’t it? Even as children it was obvious. You’d be with other little girls, acting out pretend beauty pageants or playing with our mom’s make up and heels, while I’d be outdoors, looking for wildflowers by myself or catching tadpoles with the boy next door. When it came to gifts, you’d always receive dolls or a kitchen play set, while I’d be delightedly opening the covers of a brand-new book. Our interests were so dissimilar it meant that we rarely competed, but also that we seldom found ourselves moving in the same circles.

Now, sharing an apartment with you in a different city, I  get to enjoy being with you as much as I want. As I do, I find that the ways in which you are different from me are some of the things I love most about you. You are so brave, so fearless when it comes to letting people into your soul. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and I am always afraid that you’re going to get hurt. While I tread cautiously, you jump right in, throwing yourself fully and gloriously into trusting someone. That is your gift, and perhaps the one thing  you have that I truly envy.

Keep that sweetness alive inside you. It is the loveliest of so many beautiful things that make you who you are. You are, truly, ma belle Evangeline.

I will always, always be here for you.

Loving you so much,


P.S. Thanks for always being there for me during “the crazy times.” I love you!

Dearest Joshua,

You, little brother, are one reason I love surprises. When you unexpectedly came into our lives, it was like God smiled at us from heaven and said, “Here. Have a huge helping of joy. It’s on me.” And just like that, our lives suddenly changed. With your impish sense of humor, your insatiable curiosity, and your clumsy tenderness, you completed our family and bound us even closer to each other. Watching you grow up has been an incredible joy.

But it is also more than a little bittersweet. You’re about to become a teenager, and pretty soon you won’t fit on my lap, and you’d be too cool to hold hands with your sisters in public. Even now, you’re starting  to tower over us when we walk together. I want to roll back the years just a little, make your childhood last longer, so that we could stay in the times when you were so small I could put you to sleep on  my shoulder, or just old enough  to know how to turn on the charm for “just one more story” before bedtime. When nothing worse than a flat tire on your bike can go wrong and a hug is enough to make everything better. But I can’t, bunso, and that knowledge gives me a little pang in the heart even as I smile when I see how big you’ve grown.

Yet, I smile for a reason, because the person you are becoming is someone I’d love to get to know. You are kind to others, even those weaker than you. You’ve never bullied anyone, and have tried to protect those that other kids were bossing around. There is no prejudice in you; you can get along with your rich classmates as well as your playmates at the outreach. You make the whole family laugh, and are quick to give us a hug when we’re upset over something. In my darkest moments, you have literally saved my life by giving me a reason to hold on.  You’re a wonderful person, Josh, and it makes my heart burst with pride to have you as my brother. Never doubt how deeply I am proud of you.

I wish I could be with you now, to help you find your bearings in high school, watch you deal with a crush, or just see if I can still get you to climb a tree in the rain with me. But your Ate, too, has her own growing up to do. Just know that wherever I am, my prayers are with you. And oh, I left a million kisses on your cheek while you slept. That’s for whenever you miss me.

I love so, so much, for always.

Missing you,



On Adoption – A Reply to NikkiAngeli

There’s this new article in peyups which talks about adoption and the stigma that adopted children often face in society. The writer, NikkiAngeli, raised these questions: “Ano ba ang meron sa dugo? Kung sinipsip ng bampira ang lahat ng dugo mo sa katawan, hindi mo na ba tatawaging ina ang iyong ina, ama ang iyong ama at kapatid ang iyong kapatid?

I, for one, found my answer right at home. My little brother Joshua is adopted, and he knows it, but he also knows that it doesn’t take away from how special, how loved he is. If anything, it actually makes him feel more important because we tell him often that with biological children, parental love is expected, some would even say required. But with him, it was a deliberate, conscious commitment. He was specially chosen to belong to us, just as we belong to him. There is absolutely no doubt in his mind about his place in our family. Genes are not – and will never be – an issue.Being an “ate” to Joshua is an everyday rollercoaster experience. He asks the toughest questions (“Ate, how can you tell a male tahong from a female tahong?”), interrupts my reading to convince me to play “teks” with him, and demands explanations for everything (baths, for example. He’s convinced he could get by with one every other day). But just when I’m close to complete exasperation, he smiles and makes me laugh by telling me how pretty my eyebrows are (coming from a nine-year-old boy, I took that as a compliment). In return for all these, I get to boss him around and hug him as much as I want, plus I have someone to help me drive our sister crazy, and someone to remove spiders from the bathroom so that I can take a bath. In other words, he is my brother, our “bunso”, in every way except in one that doesn’t really matter.

The time will come when we can no longer protect Josh from being hurt, or from the reality that people can sometimes be insensitive or narrow-minded. All we can do is to try to build in him a sense of belonging that can never be shaken, no matter what happens, no matter what people say. We want him to have the freedom to soar and the courage to explore his horizons, as long as he knows that he will always have a place to call home. Roots and wings. We want to give him roots and wings.

People often remark on how fortunate Joshua is to belong to our family, but I think that we have received the greater blessing. When I watch him sleep, I often wonder if he can ever really comprehend just how precious he is, just how much we love him. I wonder what our family would be like if he had never come to us, if he had never brought the joy and the adventure that only he can bring. We would have missed so much. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel honored and thankful for the special gift of being able to share in his life. Joshua is, and will always be, God’s way of saying I love you to us.


Private Conversations with Joshua 2

Habang nanonood ng Encantadia:

Josh: Crush mo yan, ate? (si Ybarro)

Ako: (tango)

Josh: Kasi magaling sya?

Ako: (tango ulit)

Josh: Sino pang crush mo?

Ako: Si Aragorn.

Josh: Tsaka sino pa?

Ako: Si Gary V.

Josh: Tsaka sino pa?

Ako: Wala na.

Josh: Si Aguiluz, crush mo rin?

Ako: (iling)

Josh: Ako crush ko si Alwina…(pabulong) tsaka si Ella…

Ako: Bakit mo crush si Ella?

Josh: Kasi maganda sya.

Ako: Yun lang?

Josh: (iling) Mabait pa sya.

Ako: Tsaka?

Josh: Tsaka lagi pong nakikinig sa Bible.

Ako: Tsaka?

Josh: Lagi pong nago-obey.

Ako: Eh pa’no kung hindi sya maganda pero mabait pa rin sya tsaka nakikinig pa rin lagi sa Bible tsaka lagi pa ring nago-obey? Crush mo pa rin sya?

Josh: Opo.

Ako: Talaga?

Josh: (tango) Wag mo yun isasabi kay Ella ha.

Ako: (taas kamay) Promise.

Josh: Pag sinabi mo, isasabi rin kita kay Gary V…. Saan ba nakatira si Gary V.?

Oo nga naman…saan ba nakatira si Gary V.? Para masabi ng kapatid ko sa kanya na crush ko sya…hehehe…


Private Conversations with Joshua

Nasa room ako, gumagawa ng earrings na beads. Dumating bunso namin (8 years old), nakisali. Ang naging usapan:

Joshua: ‘Te, kanino ko naman po ibibigay ‘tong ginagawa ko? Wag mo lang sabihin na sa girlfriend ko ha.

Ako: May girlfriend ka na?

Joshua: Opo.

Ako: Sino?

Joshua: Alam mo na yun…

Ako: Si Ella? Uuuyyy….(crush nya since preschool)

Joshua: Hehe..opo.

Ako: Sinagot ka na ba nya?

Joshua: Ano po yung “sinagot”?

Ako: Yung…pumapayag syang maging girlfriend mo…

Joshua: Ikaw po ‘te, may girlfriend, ay boyfriend ka na?

Ako: Wala.

Joshua: Kasi hindi ka pa sinasagot ng crush mo?

Wala na akong nasabi, tawa na lang. Actually Josh, hindi pa alam ng crush ko na nag-eexist ako…hehehehe….