The Forth Son of the Popoy Family

By Jimmy Lok Ka Ying

A day before this blog post was due, I was sitting on one of the bar stools in Augustine’s bar and trying to figure out the content to write about. I sat there for nearly two hours but not a single word was written.

“Huh? You’ve got nothing to write ? There are tons of things you can write about, like, the food, hanging out with your host family, the house, your bed…. There are just so many !” One of my classmates found it surprising, after I read her post but still had no clue what I should write in mine.

“I know right? This is weird, I am living in a Filipino house with a Filipino family in which the lifestyle, the language, the culture, or just everything, that is completely different from the lives in Hong Kong, why can’t I come up with anything to write about?”  I responded with a sceptical tone.

At around 6 o’clock, I finally gave up and rode a tricycle back to Tubod Mar with the other classmates, just like usual. We slogged up the steep and muddy incline, greeted the kids we barely knew with “Hey”, “Hi”, “whats up” and finally made it home.

IMG_5596 (Photo of the view on our way home)

“How’s your day ? Dinner is ready !” Popoy, the man of the house, greeted us while lying on a deck chair.

“Great ! We’ll be at the dinner table in 5 minutes !”

“ Wait Jimmy, let’s play a game first !” Amon, the third son who has just turned 6 years old, would always ask me to play some hilarious games with him before dinner. This time, he wanted me to hit him with a paper airplane while he was running and hiding around at the second floor of the house. Albeit the games are usually quite silly, he always gets serious about it. He would remind me of the scores and randomly add some new rules to the game which usually favour him.

“ Kids, stop ! Time for dinner ! ” Marissa’s bellow was probably the only thing on earth that could stop Amon from playing those little games.

The tempting smell immediately washed off the annoying anxiety that had been reminding me of my unfinished work.  Marissa, the lady of the house, prepared fried squids and chicken livers for dinner, which were all my favourites. AJ, the second son, switched the TV channel to EBC, a Chinese-speaking channel and led the pray.

“ Let us thank God for food when others are hungry; for drink when others are thirsty; for friends when others are lonely, Amen.” People here are loyal to Christianity like Istak in Dusk, I wouldn’t dare to disrespect God like his father. Albeit an atheist, I sketched a hurried sign of the cross over my chest. He then poured some orange juice into my empty glass, and we began enjoying the cuisines.

“ Jimmy went to my school today, the enterprise he is helping provides catering service in my school.”

“ Did you guys meet each other at school ?”

“ Yeah, we were looking at the pretty girls, and Jimmy said they were not pretty at all!”

We all had a good laugh.IMG_5601(Photo of us having dinner together)

After the dinner, Larry (my roommate),  AJ and I went to play basketball as usual. We had a 1 vs 2 game, then learned each other’s moves.  AJ won the game, he’s got some crazy moves, I swore I would beat him before the end of the trip.

“ Did you have fun, did you enjoy it ?” He asked.

“ Of course ! ”  I answered without a second thought.

At night, I finally understood why I couldn’t think of something really special to write about in my blog post. Everything happened on this day seemed normal and indifferent to me as if I had been living here for years. As a matter of fact,  I have been here for 9 days only. I had never ever had to squeeze myself into a little tricycle, climbed a steep and muddy incline just to get home, eaten only chicken livers and squids for dinner, taken a shower with cold water in a room full of spiders, ants and geckos, slept at 10pm and got up at 6am for a week, etc. But how did I manage to adapt to this place within 10 days ?

It’s because my host family treats me like I’m one of their sons. They never do anything explicitly to make me feel like I have all sorts of privileges, but the truth is that they have already given me the best they can afford. The things they have done to make me comfortable living here are always subtle, I didn’t notice all the “special treatments” at the very beginning, but I gradually realise that this is not the way the other members of the family are treated. Larry and I are always offered to get the food to our dishes first, even before Popoy; Marissa washes our clothes and tidies up our room, even if we have never asked; AJ and Best always hang out with us, they really care if we have enjoyed our time with them……

This is not the first time I have lived in a host family, but this is the only time that I’d sincerely question myself why I would ever deserve it. They are subsidised to accommodate us indeed, they could have done it the easy way though,  they chose to do it the hard way just to make me feel like home. There is nothing much I can do to return them the favour except to say ‘salamat’ and behave myself at home, but I’d really want to thank them for everything they have done for me.

IMG_5572(Photo of our bed tidied-up after we came back from a 2-day trip)IMG_5579(Photo of our breakfast,we have watermelon in the morning on rare occasions) 

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