(Written by Cymark Ferdinand Mirasol. As requested by Cynia P. Mirasol for her 66th Birthday)
The pendulum swing of values throughout human history is a fact of objective reality – but Marx and Engels were wrong about their prospective vision. The pendulum will never stop because a perfect system does not and cannot exist simply because of the inherently chaotic and indomitably rebellious nature of humanity itself.
On a smaller scale, I have been fortunate enough to experience the dynamic nature of human values as it has swung from one side to the other several times during my 60+ years of existence. It really drives home the reality that in the grand scale of the universe, we are all just microscopic particles clutching onto delusions of grandeur about our own scale of influence and power.
Far detached from these grandiose thoughts, this is a story of a simpler time. A time when the ruling paradigm of human values in the Philippines was ridiculously conservative: this is the story of my Mama a story of marriage from a stolen kiss.
My Mama, Delia Dela Cruz (eventually Paguntalan), was the 2nd child in a family of 9 consisting of 6 boys and 3 girls. She was always considered the kindest and the most obedient and well-respected among her siblings. In other words, she was loved.
This was a time when parents and their children strictly observed the natural order of social hierarchy within the family. The parents, at the very top, were given the utmost respect by their children. Meanwhile, among the siblings, no one ever dared to question the authority of the eldest child. Just as in modern times, sometimes this ultra-conservative setup worked and sometimes it didn’t. In the case of Mama’s family, everything turned out just fine.
Mama lived out her childhood and teenage years during the 1920s and her adult years in the 1940s and beyond. As far as the Philippines was concerned, the pendulum swing of societal values was very much far into the conservative rightmost side – and of course, the Philippines being largely Catholic, this was the norm and was widely accepted by almost everyone.
Mama and Daddy had known each other almost all their lives. While they were never classmates because Daddy was two years older, they at least lived in the same district of Molo. The truth is that Mama never had eyes for Daddy and only knew him as an acquaintance.
On the other hand, Daddy always had a crush on Mama but he was always too shy to confess.
Mama would often recall this story to us, her kids and every single time, it never failed to make us laugh because of how ridiculous it sounded to us, who were born in a different decade when women were starting to become more empowered.
One day, while Daddy was playing volleyball along with his buddies, Mama was passing by on her way home from school. It was at this moment that Daddy decided to take his destiny into his own hands and seal his fate with his crush – with a kiss.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Daddy simply rushed over and kissed Mama on the lips.
Mama was shocked. She shouted “hudas” at her oppressor and immediately ran home crying. She felt that her honor and dignity had been severely violated – very much like how women would react nowadays to having their virginity taken by force.
For days, she would not leave the house and would spend her time in her room crying and recalling the vivid details of what had happened in her head. Modern individuals would see this as naïve – I like to see it as more of a reflection of the times. It’s hard to foster modern progressive rainbow colored values in your head when you didn’t have anyone to tell you about them and constantly reassure you of the overinflated importance of your own existence. At that time, you had yourself, your real-life friends, and your family – and if they drew from the same experiences as you did, then they would most likely hold the same values that you did.
A few days later, Daddy, along with his parents visited Mama’s family in order to formally propose marriage in order to make amends for stealing Mama’s precious first kiss. Nowadays, people might think that this is an exaggeration. After all, who gets married – staking their lives on a stolen kiss? Hello! It’s 2021 – but it wasn’t 2021. It was sometime in the 1930s and things were very different.
So yes, Mama accepted the proposal and they were married after a few discussions and arrangements.
In the end, they didn’t have a perfect relationship. Daddy was an alcoholic who was sometimes verbally abusive to Mama as well as physically abusive to us, their children. Yet there were glimpses of a debonair and caring gentleman beneath the constant stench of alcohol and his endless vocabulary of Spanish expletives.
Meanwhile, Mama, despite her brilliance as a well-respected teacher, was always submissive to Daddy no matter what because she wanted to keep the family intact.
Honestly, I am not even certain where love factors in into their relationship. From a pragmatic standpoint, I never saw this. Despite my own misgivings however, they somehow made it work. Their marriage somehow held strong for over 5 decades until death separated them. That’s probably a few decades more than some of you have been alive. I’d like to believe that much is worth something at least.
This is my Mama’s story. A story separated from the reality of the modern world by the barriers of time. An ordinary story of a less than ideal marriage -- sealed with a kiss.
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