(Lala’s yard in front of her house)
By: Kate Nan Tang
I am writing this article upstairs and downstairs my host sisters are talking and laughing. Sweet music is on. It is six in the afternoon. People of Guimaras, Philippines are beginning to have dinner with their family after a whole day’s work. Our host mother Lala just came back from Iloilo City. She went there by boat and then Jeepni (a special kind of truck functioning like a bus) to buy Chinese food because she was always worried that we may not get used to Filipino food despite we keep telling her she is a good cook. Every day after dinner, Lala will have a long talk with us. She speaks slowly but firmly about her past years, her intelligent daughters, a brother who likes music and movie, and stories of her several cousins whom we can never distinguish.
(On the way to San Miguel)
Lala’s voice cannot be called as elegant. But the other day, when she picked up a microphone and did Karaoke, we were shocked by her beautiful voice full of emotion and joy. She once was a singer in a hotel in Singapore. When she talked about her band, the shine on her face made her look like a young girl. She continued to talk about her maid life in East Europe. She mentioned once she was too happy to stop singing when she held a sweet French girl in her arms.
When the story came to her dead husband, she started weeping. We hugged her. The sun was going down and shedding afterglow to the earth gently. I suddenly remembered what Linus told Charlie Brown in the space station. He said from the perspective of outer space, we can’t see borders which we have learned in geography class. I had a feeling that at that moment, alienation due to racial difference may melt in the gentle sunset and Lala is not an “other” to us. The opposite is the same.
On the evening of the day before yesterday, my host sisters Rain and Zao invited me to go out to see stars. We pointed at those little grey twinkling stars and guessed the constellation. One the way to the beach, the sisters told me about hiking on mountains with the whole big family, an awesome house located in the middle of the sea and their favorite Korean pop stars. I enjoyed listening to their joyful story and sharing with them my life in my hometown in Southwestern China. Communication is an amazing thing. It brings three girls originally living in different countries between which thousands of miles exist together.
The weather seems to become hotter here. Every night I lie on the bed and go to sleep with the good will to decelerate global warming since we don’t have an air conditioner in the room. But it seems that until now with the fan I can still have a good sleep. So I am sure I will keep making unforgettable memories with my kind host family in the coming two weeks here in Guimaras, Philippines.