On a sweltering morning in Marbel I took out the old, dusty boxes beneath what used to be my bed. Where was my stash of old journals, the very same diaries my father used to read secretly, much to my dismay, to which he told me, “They were good”? Looking for forgotten things in our St. Gabriel home was—and still is—laborious. My journals were no longer in the small Rockport shoebox I had put them in last year; they were already in the top cabinets, inside a carefully sealed plastic bag, its clean, difficult knot a reminder of my father’s obsessiveness to cleanliness and organization. Our caretaker, a close cousin of my mother, said, “Ah, your Tatay must have transferred them there.” (My inability to tie my shoelaces properly—at 30 years old!—must have frustrated him.)
I brought home with me two pocket journals—affordable Venzi notebooks with faux-leather covers—their acid-free pages already filled. The most recent had carefully written prayers, including one dated April 17 when I learned my father had an esophageal mass. I was almost certain it was malignant, but that did not keep me from asking the Lord for a miracle. No, the ink—my own concoction of 3/4 turquoise and 1/4 black Lamy—was not stained with tears, but tears were shed, albeit privately, whenever I moved my bowels or took long showers. My brothers are amused by the fact that I cry like someone from the upperclass—“daw sosyal”—while they caterwaul like the proverbial masang tao.
Tired, I placed the two journals in my collection inside the plastic bag in the top cabinet, my often careless scribbles safe from prying, curious eyes.