Thursday, June 28, 2007

Four Generations

I found this old photo the other day. From left to right, meet Agnes (my mom), Ana (my great-grandmother), Alicia (my grandmother) and Maria (yours truly). I think it was taken when I was around fifteen or sixteen.
It's not often a woman can literally see the generations of women who went before her. I've been keeping this photo close by these past few days, reflecting a lot on each woman in turn, and seeing all sorts of interesting parallels between us that I never saw before.
Lola Anita, as we called my great-grandmother, was an only child. My grandmother is the oldest of three daughters. So is my mother. So am I. We're a family of women, of first-born girls who had a lot of family responsibility put on their shoulders.
Another thing I've realized anew is how extremely blessed I was to be able to know my great-grandmother personally. I remember family visits to Lola Anita, with all of us crowded into her room because she couldn't easily come down the stairs. I remember sitting on her bed, touching her fluffy white hair and her papery soft skin, catching glimpses of her gold teeth when she laughed, and trying to imagine her as the young woman she had been, elegant and dressy, with a different outfit for every day of the year.
Even as a child I was never bored in the company of older people. I would sit for hours and listen to them telling stories.
Lola Anita and my grandmother had especially interesting stories about living in occupied Manila during World War II. Their house was used as a conduit for supplies being brought into the city by guerrillas. One day their house was searched by Japanese soldiers. Only that morning, their garage had been packed to the rafters with bags of rice, which had been taken away in the wee hours. Had the rice still been there, the family would likely have been killed. As it was, Lola Anita found herself stuck with a box of matches the guerrillas had given her. The box was decorated with an image of MacArthur and his famous line, "I shall return." With the Japanese soldiers on her doorstep, not knowing where to hide the matches, she ate them - down to the last stick.
My grandmother was about nine years old then. Her memories of the occupation included unravelling socks for thread ... lying on the roof with her sisters and her father at night to watch war plane dogfights overhead (with Lola Anita trying in vain to make them come down - "You'll all be killed!") ... refusing to eat the pet chicken that had been slaughtered for a special meal, even though she was sick of the cabbage, rice and salted black beans they had to eat every day ... and, in the end, dodging bullets, cannon fire, and dead bodies as the family fled across the city before the advancing American forces.
In my next post...memories of my grandmother, and the love story we never found out about until after she died. 


Monday, June 18, 2007

Hiking in the rain

Thanks to my intrepid buddies Kristi and Betty, our hiking trip last Saturday went through despite the rainy weather.
We drove up to Brandywine Falls (on the Sea to Sky Highway, between Squamish and Whistler), had a car picnic, then started our adventure with an inspiring view of Brandywine Falls. Then we hiked for 2 hours on a trail quite unlike anything we had ever seen before in BC. Instead of the typical towering cedars and forest floor covered with brown mulch, there were lava beds, hardened now to stone, on which Douglas fir and pine trees had managed to seed, take root and grow. The ground under the trees was covered with lichen in shades of brilliant green, and here and there were ponds dotted with lily pads.
There was no one else on the trail, although we did bump into one guy going the opposite way on the BC Rail tracks that we followed on the hike back to the car. He was looking for the suspension bridge, which unfortunately we did not have time to visit that afternoon, deciding instead to leave it for another day.
Following the railroad tracks was quite an adventure, going through canyons and over gullies. For a while I pretended I was Natty Gann (remember that Disney movie?) walking along the tracks and jumping trains all the way north to find her father.
On the way back to Vancouver we stopped at Timmy's in Squamish for hot chocolate. The Squamish Rock, usually an awesome sight, was shrouded in fog, which was too bad because we had wanted to show it to Betty. Another thing we had to leave for next time.
I guess I'm going to have to get some proper hiking shoes!
Related Posts with Thumbnails