A song for a storm

A song for a storm


“Tell us how you did it?”

“Maybe you’re leading a double life back home, WERE YOU THIS SKILLED?”

“How is that even possible!!!”

The light dimmed my vision, only the voices of the people around me were resonating. They were in awe at what I have done, with eyes looking at me for answers. The only response I could give to them was that “It’s in my blood”. The room was silent as the Karaoke machine loudly claimed my perfect 100 after singing “In my Life” by the Beatles. My overseas coworkers were annoyed at how the myth was true, Filipinos were good singers.

It was at a going-away party before I went back home to the Philippines. My husband died when our son was still sleeping in a cradle. I had no choice but to work overseas and bring him with me. During those difficult times, I would call my mom and hear her sing the lullabies she used to calm me. Even as an adult, she still had that voice that mellowed the anguish within like a flood subsiding after the rain. This reminded me of a story she used to tell.

The Philippines is the world’s storm gate, welcoming newborn calamities every month of every year. The unfair climate would often startle children. Every rain would make them weep, and every thunderstorm would holler a scream. To quell their cries, mothers would often hum lullabies during typhoons. As each child grew up and became a parent, they would hum to their children just like how their mothers did.  Eventually, Filipinos developed throats fit to soothe the storms. Of course, it was just a story for my mom to credit-grab my talent but it became a favorite tale for my son to hear and an explanation as to why Filipinos are good at singing.

He was a reflection of me while I was a reflection of my mother. My son was scared of almost everything, from ducks to darkness. He would always rush to me and hold my hand, begging me to sing him a tune. I would hug him tight and sing the lullabies that my mother used to sing, saying that these songs were birthed from the storms and tides of our homeland. He would constantly ask me where I learned my songs. He was about to know.

We were greeted with the warmest welcome from my aunts and cousins. My son already made friends with his cousins talking about video games and sharing the chocolates we brought back. I was finally at home. We went straight to my mother’s. He was shy at first but he quickly grew fond of her, holding her hand and saying she was pretty. I would tell him she was the source of all my songs. He remarked, “Can she sing them for me too?” I said, “No sweetie, Lola can’t sing right now.” She’ll never sing again, sweetheart. My hand was gripping with grief and for once I couldn’t find a song to soothe this storm. He suddenly hummed the lullaby I sang, the lullaby she sang. Maybe it won’t be the last time I will hear from her.

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