Picture this: a thin, brown-skinned girl, not exactly kayumangging kaligatan but darker and taller than most of the fairer mestiza kids in an exclusive all-girls school, with thick white-framed eyeglasses, black hair pulled into a neat ponytail pinned with a big blue or black silk ribbon on top.
This waif of a girl would also speak so softly almost like a hush that her teachers often coaxed her to raise her voice a decibel higher.
She didn’t wear boy shoes as most of the girls did, and which she too wanted, but always wore her black ‘Mary Janes’ to go with her bobby socks trimmed with lace.
In other words, she was the 1960s’ version of a school nerd — the odd girl out, so she thought.
Now don’t get me wrong – but my being conscious of my brown complexion was only when I did not know any better; my mother would often tell me my complexion was something to be proud of. As I grew up, I disliked using whitening lotions and the like.
And that was what made me so terribly shy in grade school. Dared I not join a group during breaks unless one classmate would call me in or was with me. And in the class, I’d often wait for the teacher to call on me to recite even though I knew the answers well.
Yet, in a strange way – my shyness would also lead me, at times, to venture out with courage to play all by myself in the school playground, or enjoy fun rides with schoolmates from other sections during our school fairs. Or to sign up for a drum and bugle class, a singing group, and a painting class in high school.
You see, I could never carry a tune ’til now, and I could only splash a mixture of colors on my drawing pad – my idea of being a future Picasso or Monet. But I still surged ahead with doing all these. Just because.
I remember the look of stunned disbelief of one particular talented young boy upon seeing me on our first day in the painting class, like he saw his dog or cat taking up the brush. I sensed a note of contempt as he asked me why? He seemed to think based on his self-righteous standard, I wasn’t meant to be there. SO… what?
The spirit of that young girl from way back still lives in me — as I pursue my passions with a mix of confidence, audacity and spunk. And that is what I love most about myself – because it’s what makes me unique, what gives me the courage to learn new things, cultivate new interests like blogging…a late bloomer in the field of writing.
That lakas ng apog was sparked by my Mom’s own passion for living, for she indeed was a woman oozing with confidence and grit, inspiring in me and my siblings to achieve our goals, test new waters and scale the heights.
And that is what I love most about her, my dearest Mom, even if she’s no longer with us. To her I will forever be grateful for this, and whatever I achieve, to God be the Glory!