Onyok* was one of my brother's close friends. His mother, Aling Goria, was a strict old woman who work from dusk till dawn. She sells various street foods depending on the season. She sells bibingka and puto bumbong (rice cakes) during the Christmas season, mangga, tubo, pakwan, palamig and halu-halo (mango, sugar cane stick, watermelon, cold drinks and mixed sweets with milk and crushed ice) during the summer season, nilagang mais, mami, goto, sopas (boiled corn, warm noodles, porridge, chicken soup) during the rainy season, and for regular days, she sells binusang mais, adobong mani and butong pakwan (mixed nuts). She never run out of anything to sell..
She was one workaholic woman. And though I didn't like her much when I was young (I remember her talking nastily), I learned to respect and admire her determination and guts when I became an adult. And deep inside I secretly wish I was as industrious and persevering as she had been.
It was one summer night when my brother was in high school. Onyok came with my brother to play billiard, maybe with a game or two in mind. As I seldom see him there, I asked how he was, ignoring the uneasy look on his face. After one game, Onyok got excited and called for another game, any sign of uneasiness gone from his face. He surely was enjoying himself..
Then out of the darkness came Aling Goria, her eyes flaming with fury and her unkempt hair flying in all directions. She picked Onyok by the ear and dragged him out of the hall into the dark street ranting in her hoarse voice..
"You, son of a b#@ch! I am working as hard as a horse so that I can send you to school, and what do you do? Play billiards, you fool! You must realize that I'm not doing it for myself, I'm doing it for you so that you can study and have a life better than I had, you animal! Go home and prepare the peanuts! "
(Anak ka ng p#@a! Kayod kabayo na ko para lang makapag aral, tapos ano gagawin mo, magbibilyar ka lang na sira ulo ka. Dapat mong malaman na hindi ko to ginagawa para sa sarili ko, ginagawa ko to para magkaroon ka ng mas magandang buhay,
hayup ka. Umuwi ka dun at ihanda mo yung mane!)
I can no longer remember the other things that she said. Whatever they were, I know they were sensible and true. After several years, I was glad to learn that Onyok did finish his studies. I heard he took up Education course and became a teacher. That would be thanks to Aling Goria..
*not real names