by Cynia Mirasol with assistance from lordcloudx
I am sorry to tell you this, but your assumptions about me are incorrect. Yes, it is true that I was often a victim of circumstances during my younger days, but allow me to tell you that in many cases, I was not a helpless damsel in distress. In fact, I have never once pictured myself as the miserable tragic heroine in my own life story – because, as you are about to find out, I wasn’t exactly a little angel and I was often the one doing the victimizing rather than the other way around.
In the family, we were each known for our own unique personality quirks – every one of us at least, except for me, Cynia. I was simply the one with the most horrible personality. Our “Papa” (Grandfather) called me a “Katsila” (Spaniard.) This was actually meant as a derogatory term for someone who is headstrong and cruel. Well, I wouldn’t let this slide at all. Papa lived in a house not too far from ours. He had several fruit-bearing trees and vegetables growing on his property. So, whenever we paid him a visit, I’d steal all the ripe fruits and fresh vegetables I could find from his harvest. Sure, I wasn’t alone, my cousins did it too, but I was usually the leader – the only female among my male cousins.
Growing up, I had always dreamed of someday telling this one big epic story about how I eventually overcame adversity on my way to success – but alas, life just doesn’t happen that way – no matter how we wish it to be so. In fact, rather than being condensed into one coherent story, I find that the most memorable moments of my existence came in short, amusing vignettes.
If there is one person who could truly attest to my sometimes downright villainous nature, it would actually be the youngest in the family, the one who was born just after me – everyone’s beloved “Baby.” With only a 3-4 year-gap between us, we grew up very close to each other. We were good friends with each other for the most part, but being the elder sibling, I always felt this compelling need to assert my dominance over my sister.
Being the youngest, Baby was a very submissive child. She tagged along with me everywhere and whenever we would play together, she followed my instructions whether she liked it or not OR ELSE!
Sometimes, I would ask her to demean herself before me for no particular reason except my own personal satisfaction. For example, one time, I told her to pick up a piece of trash from the sidewalk and of course, she had no choice but to comply, knowing fully-well that there would be dire consequences for disobedience. Sometimes, even as an adult, I tend to forget that we’re now living separate lives and that I no longer hold any moral ascendancy over my younger sister.
When we were kids though, I was not beyond punching, kicking, slapping, as well as pinching Baby just to show her who was the boss here. She would break down into tears and cry at the top of her lungs every single time.
Naturally, if my parents overheard the crying, then I would be on the receiving end of a very hard swat with a leather belt or some other torture device of choice from dear Daddy Pilis.
This was not the end of it, though. Because after I’d been punished for my actions, I would once again threaten Baby verbally and I would make sure to find some way to get back at her next time.
My mean streak was not limited to only family members, however. If you believe in political theories about the inherent need for violence and dominance in human nature, I would probably make for a prime example.
In school, there was this one girl who was naturally much prettier and had nicer clothes than me because she came from a rich family. She looked like a little doll, a pampered little princess in my eyes – and oh how I admired her. Therefore, what did I do? Why, I grabbed her by the cuff, threatened her with bodily harm and promptly told her to kiss my feet whenever she saw me – and she did so without complaint OR ELSE.
For a while, this became the norm. Whenever my pretty princess of a classmate and I crossed paths, she would immediately kneel down on the ground and kiss my feet. Ah yes, the feeling of dominance and superiority I felt at that time was beyond compare. Certainly, I was aware that many of my classmates harbored feelings of resentment for me because of what I was doing – but well, far be it for me to be concerned with public opinion.
I was a very fast reader in school and so, I was assigned by the teachers to be a tutor for other children who had difficulty reading. I was assigned to my cousin and you might say I took a very Spartan approach. Whenever she had difficulty following my instructions, I would say:
“Ka mango mango gid sa imo. Mango mango gid mango mango!” (You’re so stupid. So stupid, extremely stupid!) Accompanied by a pinch or a slap. My cousin was petrified of me, so I got away with everything.
My cousin was quite scared of me so she never told the teachers of my abusive ways.
I was never afraid of boys and their so-called natural physical superiority. Feminists take note: I was around when your movement was still called “women’s liberation.” Whenever I got into a fight with one of the boys, I would wait for the teacher to call him up to the blackboard, and then I’d extend my leg and trip him up so he’d actually fall flat on his face with everyone laughing at him.
Of course, this meant that I’d be in for a fight after school. I got into many after-school fights with the boys… I fought back but lost most of them, but it’s ok. I played the victim card afterwards and told my mother who was a teacher in my school about how I’d been unfairly beaten up. I always got the last laugh in the end. My enemies hated me but then they’d be afraid to get in a fight with me again. I was called the “La Paborita bata ka maestra.” (The favorite, the teacher’s daughter).
If you think I’m exaggerating, back when I was in Grade 2, there was a secret vote as to who was the “Star of The Class,” or the person with the most friends. We were about 35-40 students in one class and I was actually dead last. This wasn’t public, by the way. I found out because my mother was our adviser and she told me about what a horrible person I was for having no friends and having the worst attitude.
Outside of school, I was definitely quite mischievous as well. Coming from a poor family, I often looked upon the things that rich people had with eyes of pure envy – quite natural, I believe. So… whenever I came across a nice looking car, I would make sure to grab the nearest metal soda bottle cap and scratch the surface of the car’s paint quite deeply and thoroughly – sometimes leaving a doodle or two in the process. Having a door chime was also another mark of opulence back in those days. We didn’t have our own door chime, so I thought it only fair to press every single door chime I came across on the way to and from school… and RUN while laughing all the way.
Back when I was 10-11 years old, our neighbors had this very cute 3 year-old baby. She was a precious little thing, quite pudgy, sparkling eyes, and very fair white skin. We were good friends with their family, but they were rich… SO, I would often poke the baby in the eye, yank her arm hard, and pinch her hard just because I found her so cute – which of course, would make her cry. I found the sound of her cries quite delightful. I was never ever caught by the way. I know how to make a quick escape.
As far back as I can remember, I’d always been talented at oration, declamation, dancing and other performance arts. This is why I was chosen as the conductor to lead the National Anthem at school. I was quite the perfectionist and so, during practice, I would hit and pinch my other classmates who didn’t live up to my standards. I remember one teacher telling me bluntly that:
“Ay abaw! Wala ka gid kasugad kay Cynthia. Kon ano ka nami nami sang magulang mo baliskad ya gid ka ya.” (Oh my! You don’t take up after Cynthia at al. Your elder sister is so good while you are the complete opposite.)
But then I’d hold my hand up to her and promptly reply: “Ti Ma’am tudlo ta gani wala ga tululupong tanawa bala ho. Ti amo man na. Indi man kami parehos tanan nga mag ulutod.” (Well Ma’am, even our fingers line up so that’s how it is. Not all of us siblings are the same.)
This would reach my parents of course, and I’d get a scolding from Cynthia and my parents – which I resented greatly because they never even took the time to hear me out and listen to my side of the story.
By far, one of the most unforgettable things that I’d ever done would be back in Grade 6. One of the boys knew that I had a crush on one of my classmates so he started teasing me endlessly about it all within earshot of my crush… SO, I chased him down and then pushed him hard with all my strength, which caused him to stumble onto one of the blackboards causing it to come crashing down. The noise was enough to wake the school principal who was asleep at that time. We were summoned to the princpal’s office where my mother was waiting, being a teacher.
I was told to ask forgiveness from my classmate, but I refused. Both my mother and the principal were astonished and asked me why, to which I said: “Ti Ma’am kon ikaw man bi? Isa ka ka babahe hambalon ko nga ikaw pa ga lagas sa lalake. Ti ano man batyagon mo bi Ma’am?” (Ma’am, what if it was you? You are a woman and someone tells you that you’re the one chasing a man? How would you feel?)
My mother admonished me for talking back at the Principal, but inwardly, she was laughing because she told the entire story to my family at meal time and everyone had a good laugh at my expense.
I won’t lie – I definitely wasn’t the most pleasant person back then and the truth is that I don’t actually regret many of the things that I did. I will not ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done. It’s a pointless act after all.
As I grew older though, as my quality of life improved, I came to understand what it felt like from the “other side of the fence” so to speak. When my husband bought me my own car for example, a brand-new Red Mitsubishi lancer, I always made sure to take the best care of it – and I would be absolutely livid whenever some streetkids so much as knocked on the window whenever they passed by. Back when my legs still served me well, I would be very quick to chase down the neighborhood kids who loved to play with our house buzzer – one of the things that I loved to do myself as a child.
To end on an amusing note, I was quite insecure when I was a teenager and so I’d often mask this by putting on make-up and walking around with my head held up high whenever I passed through our neighborhood – this elicited quite a few hateful, and perhaps envious glances from everyone who’d say:
“Baw Tanawa ho! Daw si sino da tag iya ka kalubihan ba.” (Well, look at that! She acts so important as if she’s the owner of this place.)
Funnily enough, in my professional life, one of my students in San Agustin left this glowing evaluation of me: “I hate Mrs. Cynia Mirasol because she walks as if she owns the University of San Agustin.”
At least that part of me hasn’t changed. Let’s call it “walking with the dignity of a woman.”
It’s funny how life comes full circle eventually. The ideals that you held onto so strongly when you were younger can feel so wrong as you start to get up there in age – at least this much is true for me. BUT if there is one thing that I am definitely proud of from then till now, it would be the fact that I have never lived my life on borrowed ideals and philosophies from long-dead authors who can never know of the circumstances of my own existence.
I cry foul at injustice, but with my own voice and not through parroting the words of some ideology. Cynia, has always been Cynia. That is all I am and all that I always will be.