“Nanang” was called by relatives as TOYANG, for Victoriana, and by friends or neighbors as “IDOT” for “pinidot.” Pinidot because when she was young she was very sickly and no amount of medicine could cure her.
A faith healer suggested that she be thrown elsewhere to be picked up by somebody and rename her IDOT. “Pinidot” is Ilocano for “picked up.” After that she got well. Praise the Lord! We applied this to Bing, my daughter, and it worked. Hence, “Bing”, whom we called “Baby” for Arsenia (her baptismal name), was changed to “Bing” for Aurora (her picked-up new name).
“According to your belief, so be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29)
Mother was about the size of Bing and looked and acted like Bing. I guess Bing is Mother’s reincarnation because Mother died on Bing’s birthday, May 30. Praise The Lord!
According to Mother, when I was a child she carried me out early in the morning for fresh air and sunshine and avoided meeting anybody who had a tendency to pinch my chubby cheeks.
She taught us how to pray the moment we learned how to speak. We prayed in Ilocano the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Hail Holy Queen. From the beginning my brother and I learned and believed that God knows our thoughts, sees our actions and hears our voice wherever we are. Hence, we always feared to do bad things because of our fear of God.
On Sundays Mother would dress us up with clean, newly ironed clothes and take us to the front most bench in church, where the marble slab over the burial place of the bones of our grandmother Lucrecia Bandayrel Bravo jutted out from the floor.
During Holy Week she had a table lighted with our carbide lamp near the church on which she displayed candles, candies, cigars, “Moma” (areka buyo), and wine for sale. She was a business-minded lady.
Every month she took dozens of raw hides to be tanned by Lolo Terio. The hides were loaded in carts to the Abra River, where they were floated on a bamboo raft down to Vigan, with us riding on top of them.
When the earlier hides were tanned, on our return trip she brought them to Bangued and sold them to shoe makers, and the rest for slipper-making by Father. I never saw my mother idle.
Mother sewed the upper parts of the slippers by Singer sewing machine after cutting them from the thick clothing materials she bought from Vigan, using a pattern for different sizes of feet.
Father fitted these sewed uppers on wooden patterns with nails, then sewed the lower leather parts on them. There is a shoemaker song we used to sing in school:
“WIND THE THREAD, WIND THE THREAD;
SEW, SEW, WIND THE THREAD!”
Mother was more aggressive than Father, although Father was big like Jun-Jun and Mother was small like Bing!
She always brought me along wherever she went ever since I cried for two days after she left me for Vigan and arrived back the following day.
The time she did not take me along was when she met a bus accident in Bangar, La Union, on her way to visit her brother, Tata Anton (Lt. Antonio Bravo, P.C.). After that she got sick, spitting blood, PTB, until she died when I was 14 in 1932.
Mother’s only ambition was to see Manila before her death. She did not realize that dream.
Whenever we ate, Mother would tell me: AGLABAYKA NAKKONG TAPNO AG KAPITAN KANTO. (Mix your rice and soup, my son, so that you will become a Captain.)
I became a Captain in 1950, the year I became a Lawyer. Praise the Lord! JBS
Even with the many raw hides that she was shipping to Vigan, Mother took me along. I wouldn’t let her go unless she brought me along with her to any place she went. Hence, during her visits to her brother Tata Anton, who was stationed in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, when I was only 5 years old, I had already ridden a bus from Vigan to Laoag. I imagined that the loud roaring sound under the bus was the puffing and swearing of people pushing the bus as they ran with all their might.
One Christmas Vacation Mother brought me and Elix to Laoag. There, for the first time we were taught how to use a spoon and fork by our cousins, Manang, Susing, and Mg. Manning, who were laughing at us the way we awkwardly held and handled the silvers. I was around 5 and Elix was 3 years old.
On the eve of Christmas we were given socks to hang near the window for Santa Claus to put our gifts in. This was our first Christmas with a well-to-do family, who had several maids to attend to the cleaning, cooking, laundry, and dressing up of our cousins with beautiful newly ironed clothes, while ours were simple and of inferior materials.
The following morning we woke up with the biggest surprise in our lives. There inside our socks were all kinds of goodies we never saw or tasted before, such as apples, grapes, raisins, candies, chocolates, and Chiclets!
At the foot of my sock on the floor was a toy airplane! It had a string to tie it up to the ceiling and a propeller to let it swing round and round. My excitement could never be imagined!
Aside from those rare gifts were coins in various denominations. I was so proud of my uncle, who immediately became my idol: what with all his glittering medals, buttons, Sam Browne belt, polished boots, cap of red lining with black visor, and a big metal polished cap device. He looked like a GOD to me. Then I saw soldiers jumping at his command. I liked to be like him!
The last time I remember being in Laoag was when we had another summer vacation and we went swimming with our cousins in the river near the bridge.
It was there in Laoag when I first saw a silent movie. The brother-in-law of my father, Tata Sebio San Vicente, was running the movie house and he admitted us free whenever we were there. At that time Bangued did not yet have any electricity or paved roads, while Vigan and Laoag already had asphalted roads, electric lights, running piped water and buses going as far as Manila.
Later on Tata Anton was transferred to Vigan, Ilocos Sur, as Commanding Officer of the Constabulary Company stationed in Barrio Tamag. We spent our vacations there very often, especially when there was a road connecting Vigan and Bangued via Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.
Before the construction of this road, Mother used to take me along with her on board a bamboo raft down Abra River from Bangued to Vigan on her regular trips to ship raw hides for tanning and to buy materials for slipper-making.