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Saturday, 15 December 2012

SAND IN THE CLOCKWORK

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Whenever we would hear from our younger brother, Vincent, that dad and mom are having yet another disagreement, we'd shake our head in exasperation.

After having raised six children up from the dry, brittle landscape of Tuguegarao - what else could a couple have left to argue about?

It's almost a reversal in roles. Dad and mom were the peacekeepers in the household when us kids would quarrel over toys or food every few minutes. These days, it's us kids who need to find a way to call a time out when our folks are having a serious disagreement about family businesses, or not-so-serious quarrels about what next to do in Sentosa.

To be completely fair, disagreements between my parents erupt few and far between. They're simply heightened by distance - by our feeling of collective disconnect, of our need to help fix something from so far away. We're in Hong Kong. Diva is God-knows-where - Rome today, Cozumel tomorrow. Teri is in Seoul, Loren is in Singapore and Igi is cloistered in the Rogationist novitiate in Cavite. Only our youngest - Vincent, who is studying Veterinary Medicine and therefore prefers to understand the simpler motivations of cows and horses than of complicted human beings - serves as buffer between dad and mom.

After having raised 6 kids...

That's when we remembered a phrase we heard from "Uncle Roger and Mama Tony" - a gay couple who had adopted us as their own when we had just moved to Hong Kong. Uncle Roger and Mama Tony had coddled us in the American Club, in their antique-filled home in SoHo, and in their luxurious Bangkok condo over many an orphaned holiday.

"Sand in the clockwork," Uncle Roger explained, "is the reason your Mama Tony and I are still together after 25 years." Holy shit, that's like 5 gay lifetimes.

It clicked.

You need to throw sand into the clockwork every now and again to keep the gears moving, especially if the machine has been running non-stop for a long time. And as long as the gears' teeth continue to hook and bite and grind against each other, the machine works.

Suddenly, what seemed like a cause for panic amonsgt us siblings now looks like a simple exerise in happily wedded bliss.

It's been 32 years since dad and mom promised "I Do" in what was then the humble church of Our Lady of Piat. Now, the church has become a "Basilica Minore" - a favourite shrine amongst Filipino pilgrims. And that's another awesome benchmark for this epic relationship, apart from the fact, of course, that dad and mom have just become proud grandparents to Robin Zachary Gannaban Roh.

But that's another story, perhaps for next year's anniversary.

Daddy and Mommy, we love you.




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