Yes, I am a failure. You don’t need to stress it. Amidst my age, you can see the trace of my early labor. But it’s okay, this is the path I chose and the way my life will be forever. My past? Everybody has his own story to tell. Each has his own scar to hide. Seeing this scar, both hidden and seen, drives us back to the past we long buried within us. You see this scar? This reminds me not of the failure of my parents but of a metanoia that happened in my life.
I didn’t come from an affluent family. My father was just a carpenter in our barrio and my mother, a seller of dried fish. Their earnings for the day were enough to provide for our needs but not enough to surmount our wants. Poor mother, I can still remember the time when my Kuya Cardo brought home his girlfriend who got pregnant from Manila. Kuya was a scholar there but because of what happened his scholarship was taken from him which also meant shattering my parents’ dream of pulling us from slums. “Nay, I promise, I will help you once we get through this. I’ll lend tatay a hand in all his carpentry works while Dina and I live under your roof,” he promised. But did he fulfill his promise? No! Instead, he spent his days drinking liquor with his friends. Good heavens! His wife? That woman? Instead of giving us a hand, ended up being the seniorita in the house. As she continued to claim, “It’s your obligation! It’s your son who brought me in this slum!” Nanay would just bow her head, accepting Dina’s complaints. There was a time when she called me early in the morning, “Carina! Carina!” I then earnestly prompted with respect, “Yes, Ate?” “Where’s your kuya Cardo?”she questioned me with raised eyebrows. I was afraid to tell her that kuya is with his friends. She understood my silence and yelled with sobs, “Ah! If I only knew my life will end up like this, I should have not chosen him. Look at me! I cannot even dress myself up!” My ate Ning then yelled back at her after hearing her regrets, “You shouldn’t blame my brother! You also enjoyed that night right?” with that ate Dina slapped my ate Ning. Ate Ning grabbed Ate Dina’s hair. They fought furiously, I don’t know what to do. By the time my brother came, Dina was already on the floor. What saddened me was the fact that he didn’t listen to Ate Ning’s explanations. He decided to leave the house with his girlfriend. Nanay was crying while watching brother pack his things. “Cardo, please do not leave! I promise this will never happen again,” nanay pleaded. “Yes nak, if you want to leave do that first thing in the morning, not now,” added Tatay. But to no avail. Kuya Cardo left without a word. That was the last time I have seen Kuya Cardo. That was not the end of my life’s novel. I entered the house one day, a year after Kuya left us, when I saw my sister kneeling before my parents with relentless cries. “Nay, please! I love him. I want to be with him. I know he can provide for all my wants nay. He ensures that I’ll be safe there in Hawaii with him.” Nanay responded, “Nak, why do you have to leave us? If he loves you then let him stay here. Are you sure he’s telling the truth? You just knew each other through the internet. That isn’t love.” But my sister pleaded once more, “Nay, tay, I’m sure about this. I promise when I get there, I will send you money, enough to send Carina to college.” My father was busy preparing for the pew requested by the church- acting as if he does not care but I could see in his eyes the anguish that could not be converted to words. I promise. I promise again. Yes, the same words. But did Ate fulfil her promise of sending us money? No! We didn’t even hear a word from her which caused our family more pain. And the burden was placed heavily upon me. I became my family’s last hope.
One morning, a year after my Ate Ning left us, I was helping Nanay prepare her dried fish. “Nay, I PROMISE, I will never be like them. I will not leave you nay!” I cried. But mother interrupted, “Hush child. Don’t utter negative things against your siblings.” “Nay, I’ll study hard and pull you out of slums. You have to trust me, I promise!” I Promise, I promise again! Same words. But did I fulfil my promise? No! I was astounded by the leisures the city life has provided there in Manila while in college and so I skipped classes and went to the mall with my new found friends. I enjoyed every minute of my day until I got 3 subjects failed. That’s the time I felt so alone. And so I decided to end my life. I was saved however. I could not look at my parents in the eyes when I was in the hospital. I was so ashamed of myself. I thought they will forsake me but they didn’t. There in the darkest hour of my life, they held my hand and whispered, “I love you Nak.” No promises, just three words which encompassed all promises one can make for love. Tears began to roll down from my eyes. No words can exactly express the love they have for me and so I chose to fight for myself and for them.
Do you see this scar? This scar reminds me not of failure but of the love that my parents have for me. We do all have scars. Look at them now, what do each tell you? Our scar is like the cross – it does not symbolize pain, sorrow and loneliness anymore because God chose the cross to show victory, forgiveness and love. With this, His promise of redemption was fulfilled. His “I promise” was brought to reality.