ALL MY DAUGHTERS
By Pablo A. Tariman
“Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight
With lilies o’er spread is baby’s wee bed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed”
– Brahms Lullabye
I like freezing the picture of my eldest daughter who fetched us at the Hong Kong airport and billeted us in a hotel for a four-day holiday.
Apart from me, she sent for her sister and two nieces who were traveling for the first time abroad.
As she took care of our tour and inland transport and hosting intimate family lunch and dinner, I can’t believe she was the same daughter who was born in Albay on a Black Saturday. She grew up in a house by the sea with a good view of the perfect cone, lording over the hill I used to climb with a friend.
Now she is a busy business consultant and in the middle of business trips, she found time to see us in a foreign soil and spending for air tickets and hotel accommodation and asking how everyone was.
We exchanged stories in this restaurant called Social Place, we took a tram to Victoria Peak and at that time of the year, the weather was cold, and the icy wind nipped on your skin.
As you view the skylines of this former British colony, you come to terms with what it took to raise three daughters with varied interest.
One is into the arts (she was involved in school theater), another was an activist and the third was into sports before she became a full-time mother.
Into their growing up years, you cooked their breakfast, walked or biked them to school, escorted them to their first ballet lessons, attended their PTA meetings and before you knew it, they are in college and years later, you figure in their commencement exercises.
In the next three months, three daughters turn a year older, two are mothers of one and the youngest a mother of two.
As you brace for their birthdays, you reflect how you raised three daughters with different concerns and how you coped with their individual life choices.
Before she left for Frankfurt, my daughter taught and tutored staff of diplomats.
Another daughter attended the state university, worked in the university newspaper and just a couple of years before graduation, she disappeared and was soon found in the jungles of Isabela figuring in an armed encounter with the military which claimed to have found several Armalites in her possession.
This episode in my second daughter’s life saw me travelling from Manila to Cabagan, Isabela and back every month for two-and-a-half years to attend the hearings. Those years were difficult, almost harrowing.
Meanwhile, my youngest was into sports and although I have not seen a single live volleyball game in my life, I could only offer moral support. Now I make up for my absence in her high school and college volleyball games by helping take care of my granddaughters
A top student during her high school years and graduating cum laude in a school for the well-off along Katipunan, my eldest probably sensed there was no way she could be stable with a degree in development studies and a master’s degree in Pilipino. While in Manila, she took courses in German language, later flew to Frankfurt and acquired another master’s degree in business and finance.
Every time we are reunited in Manila, I could see a daughter with a good business sense. But her affinity with the arts remained as she and partner watched concerts and hosted dinner for the celebrated pianist-godmother of her only daughter.
The view from the upper terrace of Victoria Peak was fantastic and I thought it was just as magical as the island’s Balacay Highland Point and Binurong Point in my island province.
All throughout our four-day stay in HK, I recalled the younger days of my eldest daughter staying in the island with her grandmother. At that time, I couldn’t manage deadlines and raising babies and my parents decided to help me out.
As she personally arranged all those HK itineraries and made sure we had an Uber car from hotel to airport, I realized I had a good daughter who could give me a special treat in my old age.
To be sure, I enjoyed HK but with it came the realization that my eldest has evolved into a seasoned global citizen and a good daughter who cared a lot for her sisters, nephews and nieces as well.
Back in Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, I remember this was the same place recreated by a film inspired by a Han Suyin autobiographical novel, A Many Splendored Thing.
Up there with an exhilarating view of Hong Kong, you rewind your life and times with your three daughters as you recall the Han Suyin film and song that made it popular —
Oh, once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched my silent heart
And taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s a many splendored thing