I know the earliest parts of my life by its echoes. The clicking of my mother’s heels late at night meant that she has arrived home from a long day at work. The grumbling orchestra of my father’s stomach early in the morning, as I lay down on his lap watching TV, meant that he had been drinking beer the night before.
Perhaps it is no surprise that I am guided through my earliest memories by sound. My existence is predicated on it, after all. My parents met because my father dialled the wrong telephone number. It must have been my mother’s honey-warm tone, or the way she said “Hello?” with a slight twang. The man who would be my father, a bad boy from the projects of Quezon City, had an ear for music, and he promptly fell in love with the sheltered kolehiyala from the South.
I am always met with silence when I ask them what happened between the phone call and the wedding. Things I did know to be true — my father loved to sing. He was a part of his college glee club, and would unwind after a long day of taking care of me and my sister by singing the greatest OPM hits of yore. “Just hang on,” he would sing after Gary Valenciano in a baritone. “Who knows, we might get there.” My father’s celebrity avatar, however, was the just as kalbo, just as guwapo, and just as babaero Rico J. Puno. “Bakit ba ganyan ang buhay ng tao? Merong mayaman at merong api sa mundo.”