Monday, June 16, 2008

Jose Monreal Lacaba


JOSE MONREAL LACABA is standing in the back row, second from left, pipe in hand. The caption says: “Banquet given by Cagayan, Misamis Oriental prominent veterans at Mabuhay Hotel in honor of Maj. Melencio Orbase (?) of the Phil. Veterans Board Nov. 20, 1946.” Malapit na akong mag-isang taong gulang nang kunan ang retratong ito.
(Click on the photo to get a zoomed-in view. I discovered this accidentally just now.)



Katatapos lang ng Father’s Day, at bilang belated celebration ng araw na iyan ay ipino-post ko ang isang lumang tulang sinulat ko noong dekada 60, noong nagsusulat pa ako ng tula sa Ingles.

Hindi ko halos nakilala ang aking ama, si Jose Monreal Lacaba. Noong lumalaki kaming magkakapatid sa Cagayan de Oro, nasa Maynila siya, isang working student, ginagamit ang kanyang veterans’ benefits bilang dating gerilya ng USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) noong World War II.

Sampung taon na ako nang lumipat kami sa Pateros, pero sa Maynila pa rin nagbo-board ang aking ama, nagtatrabaho sa Bureau of Labor (Department of Labor and Employment na ngayon) habang nag-aaral ng abugasya sa University of Manila. Umuuwi lang siya sa Pateros tuwing weekends.

Labintatlong taon ako nang mamatay siya--kanser sa atay--at ako, bilang panganay sa anim na magkakapatid, ang mula noon ay tumayong padre de pamilya. Hindi ko naiwasang sumama ang loob sa maagang pagpataw ng responsibilidad sa aking balikat, at pagkaraan ng halos isang dekada ay inihinga ko ang aking sama ng loob sa tulang ito. Matapos kong sulatin ito, pinatawad ko na ang aking ama, at sa kinaroonan niya ngayon, palagay ko’y pinatawad na rin niya ako.


BELATED ELEGY

By Jose F. Lacaba

My father’s bones will stay in place,
at peace with the worms and growth of grass.
Unkempt is the grass that surrounds his grave,
sharp question marks for us who have
forgotten—but the very sound of father
was hollow long ago. Before
the cancer in the liver turned him yellow
my father was to his son unknown.

At work by day, in school at night,
on weekends he would check my height
against the lines on the kitchen wall:
the only way he knew to find out how far
work of his flesh had traveled from his flesh.
Were he yet upright, he’d be amazed,
my eyes would be level with his brow.
But more than cubits is the distance now.

What happens to the hope parents cherish?
Last from the box, first to perish.
I was eldest in a brood of six
whose future strained my father’s wrists.
He worked to the bone, and bone remains;
and strain is the eldest’s inheritance
—impossible to keep out the pain
that startles the heart now and again.

NOTE: Isang earlier version ng tulang ito ang lumabas sa Philippines Free Press, September 30, 1967. Ang naka-post dito ay ang slightly revised version na lumabas sa librong Father Poems, edited by Alfred A. Yuson and Gemino Abad (Anvil Publishing, Pasig City, 2004).

9 comments:

Joshua said...

Oo nga po napakabigat na responsibilidad ang pagiging ama..lalo na kung hindi ka pa ama..

cHeLLedzOi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cHeLLedzOi said...

Sir, gusto ko lang pong sabihin na nainspire po ako dun sa Tagubilin at Habilin ninyo (nabasa ko po sa blog ni bianca g.). Sana po ok lang na nagsulat rin ako ng halos hango sa gawa nyo..

catherine rose said...

Dear Mr. Lacaba,

Natutuwa po kami dito sa Pasuguan ng Pilipinas sa New Delhi na malamang kayo ang napiling tumanggap ng Aruna Vasudev Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Cinema sa Osian's Cinefan nitong darating na buwan. I'm sure that Osian's will be looking after all your needs but please free to let us know if there is any assistance that we at the embassy could offer you. Hopefully, we would also have the privelege to meet and congratulate you personally when you come here to India.

(Hindi po namin alam kung saan makukuha ang inyong e-mail address, kaya dito na lang muna kami sumulat sa inyong blog.)

Catherine Torres
(catherinerose.torres@gmail.com)

coolwaterworks said...

Hi Sir,

Congrats po sa matatanggap ninyong award sa India...

I am an admirer, and I have learned of this site through Bianca G's blog.

I am adding you to my blog roll if you don't mind.

Thanks...

Ka Pete said...

cHeLLedzOi said...
Sana po ok lang na nagsulat rin ako ng halos hango sa gawa nyo..

OK lang. Sabi ko naman sa intro ko, ang tula ko mismo ay inspired by "Desiderata" and "Sunburn."

snoop said...

Sir I just happen to stumble on this site and recognise the photo of my Lolo.major Melensio Ola
orbase.made me very proud indeed.thank you.my name is Noel Gregory orbase pujol.

Ka Pete said...

Snoop:

Which one there is your Lolo? I assume he's seated, being the honoree. Pang-ilan siya mula sa kaliwa?

snoop said...

Ka Pete
my lolo is the one in the middle7
From the left or right. SNOOP