Katherine: Growing Up Amidst Paper and Ink
On my first day in college, my Mom and I boarded a jeepney to España, Manila from Project 3, Quezon City. It was around 6 o'clock in the morning, a good hour before my first morning class.
We rode in silence but I was pretty scared, thinking that a robber or a lunatic would hijack the jeepney and run away with all our belongings. I looked to my side and my mother was sitting beside me, stone-faced. I looked at the traffic behind us and saw our family car, then a black Mitsubishi Adventure, slowly following the jeepney. I felt safe.
On my second day in college, at 6 o'clock in the morning, I boarded the jeepney, alone this time, while my parents followed riding in the family car. They followed it all the way to the University of Santo Tomas. But wait, there's more.
On the first day, my mother waited for me (yes, just like preschool!) in front of my college building. And she showed me how to take a jeepney back to Project 3. But this time, my Dad was waiting for us at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Project 3, the same church where I was baptized. On the second day, I took the public transportation on my own while my parents waited for me at the church.
To some people, my 16-year old version probably sounded (and looked like) a vain, spoiled brat who knows nothing about the so-called “outside world.” And they're probably right. I really didn't know anything or any better back then. There were scenes in Manila that sent shivers down my spine during my first year in college.
To some, our parents might seem “over protective” but you can never really blame them. I was in college when I first took public transportation on my own. The LRT 2 was still a pile of construction back then so I had no choice but to take the Project 3 jeepney. The church was located along the notorious Aurora Boulevard in Project 3, thus the need for extra caution.
When he was younger, my dad was shot with a stray bullet on his side on board a jeepney on his way home in Marikina. My parents knew the dangers of taking the public transportation so their best advice to me was to look alert all the time. I took it to heart and walked the streets looking like I could punch anyone who gets in my way.
I also carried a small knife all those years in college. Better look like a bitch on the outside even though I am deathly scared on the inside. For people who don't really know me, the years I spent passing through Cubao on my way to UST probably etched my “resting bitch face” in stone.
It's one of my favorite stories to tell, not because I didn't know how to take the public transportation then, but because it made me realize how our parents helped us become who we are.
Just like the first day in college, our parents held our hands and inspired us to try new things until we get the hang of it. And just like the second day, when we finally try it on our own, they're always—forever—in the background, onboard whatever kind of car they drive. And even if they escape our line of sight due to the traffic buildup, we go on, confident that they are always behind us.
My parents and I don't always see “eye to eye” in many things. Oh boy, there were many years filled with tears because I didn't understand their way of thinking sometimes. It was only when I left home and lived on my own in a rented condo unit in Mandaluyong that I realized why my mother hated dirty dishes in the sink. My husband already left for Malaysia during this time but I decided to live on my own even though I could have stayed at his property in Taytay or at our family home in Pasig. Living on my own made me realize just how much I still didn't know about being a responsible adult and how much more I needed to learn from my parents.