Thursday, April 15, 2010

in Memory of Snow White

I just woke up when Keno, my best friend's younger brother asked me if I have heard of Tita Rotchelle. I said no. I just heard that she was in the hospital. Then Keno replied. “Ate patay na siya.” I was shocked. Still in shock.

How can death take such a fine young woman, still in her prime?
Death is feared, celebrated yet we have no choice but to embrace it. Death is like a thief in the night. It surprises you.

Rotchelle Padua. Ching. Tita Rotch for me (Mommy to some) will always be remembered as the timid, fair-skinned girl. The class Snow White. I always joke about her very smooth hands. Mala kandila. I told her, perhaps she has no household chores. She laughed with her soft sweet voice, “nagtatrabaho din ako sa bahay ek. Ewan ko bakit malambot tong kamay ko.

She speaks Tagalog. Tin-tin de Pedro (Baby Chin) tells her to speak in Ilonggo. But she said, how can she speak in Ilonggo if the people are conversing her in Tagalog? She can understand Ilonggo but opts to speak in Tagalog. I learned her parents were from Manila and they speak Tagalog at home. When she speaks, we told her that we have to lean and really really listen since she has a very soft voice.

I always tell her she is so timid, very silent alongside with Gera. I will always remember her seating in one row with Floribeth, Geraldinn (I call them the 'silent girls') and Momsie Cha. But Momsie Cha refuted. “Abi mo lang na nak hipuson na sila.Palaistorya na sila.” Such wrong first impression.

She doesn't talk loud like us, that is. She's a very animated talker. She used to share stories. Literature is her company. When you talk to her, you know you have a very attentive listener. She adores Rob Pattinson. That was the long chat we had on FB. I told her I am for Team Jacob. She insisted that the mysterious vampire is more lovable. That Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, the immortal one is just so sweet. Period.

When I told her I was meeting a male high school classmate for a cup of coffee and I asked her to guess, she replied. “Si Jeffrey?” And I laughed. High school memories of families and wives and our sheer silliness. And she laughed along.

She asked me one day. "Ek, have you read my article in PDI on March 19?” I thought it was a press release or something work related. It was a personal essay. It's her reflection of her 21 years of existence. It was published in Young Blood.

A good beginning

By Rotchelle M. Padua
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:52:00 03/19/2009

Filed Under: Youth

I am now spending the last few days of my 21st year here on earth. To be perfectly honest, I am quite apprehensive about the coming of my 22nd birthday. Although I remain optimistic, I can’t help but feel that, well, I am getting older. Time flies with incredible speed. Things happen too swiftly that we hardly find time to remember the memories that make up our lives. So let me take this time to revisit some moments of my life and ponder on my youth.

Was it just last year when my mom accompanied me to my first ever formal school?

Was it just last year when I became a regular visitor at the hospital because of my weak immune system?

Was it just last year when I gave out a heart-breaking cry for fear that the church door would be barred because we were late for my first communion?

Was it just last year when the thought of wearing something extremely feminine for a high school promenade seemed ludicrous to me?

Was it just last month when I accepted a role in our drama class many people who know me wouldn’t have thought I could tackle, without first taking workshops on how to raise an eyebrow, how to throw things in a convincingly outraged manner and how to yell loud enough for the audience to realize that I was on stage, speaking to them and not to myself?

Was it just last year when the thought of leaving home for college and staying at a boardinghouse overwhelmed me with nostalgia and doubts that almost shattered my goal of finishing college?

Was it just last year when I would silently command my voice not to quiver and tell myself to feign confidence whenever I spoke in class?

Was it just last month when I wished that a Shakespeare incarnate could have written plays and sonnets dedicated to me for the whole world to appreciate?

Was it just last year when I graduated from college, feeling unusually triumphant after overcoming so many obstacles to my earning the much-coveted diploma?

Was it just last week when I had my first job interview?

Was it just yesterday when I realized that I have started to earn a living and not just learning to earn a living?

These are the events that happened in my past, distant and recent. And I am beginning to feel a little bit old again.

When I was 10, I considered high school students to be as young as I was. I looked at college students as moderately old. I looked at teachers, doctors, employees, and the rest of the workforce as old, and the people older than them as much too old for me. Now that I belong to the “old” group, I bicker with my 10-year-old self and adjust, reclassify, or better yet try to abolish the unjust age classification.

I have more youthful principles with which to replace them: Anybody who wants to be young must be given the chance to feel (and probably look) young. Anybody whose child-like qualities have been left dormant should be encouraged to be a child again. Anybody who has forgotten how to find joy from simple things should be taken on an early morning walk along a path where nature looks wonderful. Anybody who has lost compassion towards others should have his or her eyes opened to the pleasant truth that genuine care for others (that’s why we’re here for anyway) can give unparalleled happiness, which may be the key to keeping age at bay. Youth can be an option. It can be a state of mind. It can be a pleasant condition of the soul brought about by happiness, contentment, peace and love.

Ending my 21st year is like finishing a book’s chapter I have always yearned to read. Some of the best moments of my life happened last year. Those were the moments when I felt so cared for, so protected and so blessed beyond description. Those were the moments when all the iniquities in the world were shrouded by the love of the people around me. Those were the moments when I felt that the world was a better place to live in (hackneyed as it may seem). Those were the moments I will be eternally grateful for.

Ending such a wonderful year fills me with nostalgia, but this is the only way I can begin another chapter—and hopefully more chapters—that God has designed for me. It is the only way I can collect more memories. It is the only way I can share more of myself with others. It is the only way to have a deeper understanding of life. It is the only way I can fulfill the grand purpose that God has assigned to me from the day I was born.

Tita Rotch is a very good friend. Despite her sickness, she went to Lake Sebu to celebrate Momsie Cha's birthday. We went to the falls and she was wearing a jacket. She was there just to talk to Mommy and observed our childlessness.

Tita Ching, despite her fever joined us to celebrate Momsie Cha's birthday in Lake Sebu

Tita Rotch contemplating.

Tita Ching with Floribeth

The other week I heard she's in the hospital. I texted her but she didn't reply. We don't know what's her illness. She wouldn't tell us. Maybe she doesn't want us to worry.

Tita Ching, you will always be remembered. Your sweet smile. Your low voice. Your milky white skin. And the vampire love stories. Thank you for the friendship.

You are with our Creator. You are completely healed now.


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