The things you do on Good Friday

You'd watch the television on Holy Wednesday and you'd be forgiven for thinking that all we do on Holy Week - or, well, technically, half of Holy Week, the four days, from Thursday to Sunday, when we all get a holiday - is go on holiday. The news cycle becomes slow, so the evening newscasts, with their substitute anchors, would talk in between live shots from the NLEX and the SLEX, and chat with reporters stationed at a bus terminal, or a ferry port, or maybe Boracay.

That guy in Boracay would probably be the showbiz reporter, and his beat would shift towards answering one question: what are our favorite celebrities doing this Lent? Siyempre, it's a time to contemplate. That's what they'd definitely answer, while wearing swimwear, only a little more modest - there's be a shirt where Derek Ramsey's abs would usually be, for instance - and, behind them, fellow beachgoers who are having so much fun they're oblivious to the fact that there's a camera near them. And it's pointed at Derek Ramsey.

My mother's grandmother (my grandmother's mother - or should I just say "my mother's mother's mother" and be done with it?) probably wouldn't like it. A chunk of my mom's childhood was spent at her grandmother's place in Bulacan, and whenever Holy Week would roll along - especially Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ died on the cross - she and her siblings would be forbidden to do anything. No work. Definitely no fun. My great grandmother would remind them every now and then that they aren't supposed to do anything, because, well, Jesus Christ just died on the cross.

One of the things my great grandmother forbid my mother from doing is to go swimming. "Bawal daw lumangoy kapag Holy Week," she told me a few days ago. "Palagi raw may nagbubuwis." She mentions this because, just hours before, maybe an hour flat, a kid drowned at the swimming pool in the condominium complex where we have a unit in.

I don't know how he is, though. My dad, who was looking after some friends at the time, noticed a commotion at the swimming pool below. There was a kid, unconscious, the pool attendants attempting to do CPR on him, and apparently not really doing it well. (Remember, kids, you pump to the tune of "Stayin' Alive".) The kid was revived, but they just left him by the stairs, in shock, because nobody really knows who's watching over him. He tagged along when someone delivered some food to some unit owner's gathering at the gazebo below, and stayed behind to swim. So the story goes. That unit owner won't claim responsibility, perhaps because he didn't know the kid stayed in the first place. My dad had to tell the pool attendants to take the kid to the hospital. And then they had a protracted search for a vehicle. Again, unit owner won't claim responsibility.

Yeah, that paragraph read a bit doom-and-gloom-y. The kid was eventually sent to the hospital, which explains why I don't know how he is. I hope he's well, though. What I found unsettling was the situation at the pool the moment I got there, an hour after the incident. There were still a lot of kids swimming, although they're now all at the shallow side of the pool. The show must go on.

The first time my mom went swimming on Holy Week was when I was seven years old. That was the first time everybody on my father's side made the half-day drive to Ilocos Norte, where my grandfather was born. I remember sleeping on the floor, with all of my cousins. I remember the smell of farm animal poo and the white tomatoes, which amazed me. (Of course they weren't ripe. I picked them anyway.) And I remember my uncle telling me that, at my age, I should start wearing shirts with Ara Mina's face printed on it.

This Holy Week my grandfather stayed with us, which oddly delighted me, because there's something comforting about smelling the ointment he applies to his body - or is it perfume? - before he goes to sleep in the same bedroom as I am. I realize now that Holy Week, for me, has always involved my father's side of the family, and I wouldn't have it any other way, even if it means awkward questions about Rainy (which is, at least, different from all those times he'd ask me if I have a girlfriend). I mean, it's the closest to a "tradition" that we have, since we no longer go to Ilocos every year - people get old and, two years ago, my grandmother died - and we've ended up going to, yes, Boracay one year. So many people. I don't want to return.

And our family's not really that traditional, some could say. We had meat on Good Friday. I actually asked my mom why she served meat; she'd remind me that she never really observed the no-meat thing. People will sacrifice things, but me, I'd really rather just contemplate. (Derek Ramsey answer, you might claim.) I mean, why sacrifice this week of all weeks? Jesus Christ still died on the cross.

Well, we do have something that's even closer to a tradition, and that's going to Yellow Cab on Good Friday to have dinner there. I don't know how it started - it's a fairly recent thing; this is just our third year - and now we're still doing it, consciously even, even if we know the place can get really expensive. Also, this year, a whole clan decided to occupy half the restaurant, leaving everybody else with small tables. I hate that. I always have. But it's perhaps the closest I'll get to sacrifice, since I spent most of the break playing SimCity with Edsel and walking off my fats and waking Rainy up so she won't be late for call center work.

But we got to eat pizza anyway. Yeah, I expect haters to come in and call me immoral. Or not. Because when I write about something vaguely religious they apparently switch off.

And your responses...

yeah playing and being frustrated by SimCity and its constant rollbacks :D blergh.

Blogger Unknown3/31/2013     

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