This post is a bold and dangerous one because it is one, dark, family secret. Why share? Beyond being sentimental about my past, I’m a little curious over its sociological relevance. It is a unique case because it is personal. But it is as common as colds these days.
Let’s assume that beyond the acrimonious debate between the conservative and the liberal stands on sexuality that is often misleading to keep with one’s moral antenna, there is an “unease” going on. We may loosely label this “unease” with a hodge-podge of names with sex, sexual health, and sexuality interlapping – positivizing our view on sexuality, integrative approach to sexual health, casualization of sex, or spirituality of human sexuality. Loaded you may say and I’ll leave up to you to figure out its pluses and minuses. Let’s just say that despite the opening of our minds and psyche to our sexual dimension, there still remain some dehumanizing habits destructive of what I believe to be the very purpose of human sexuality – to make us more human through relationships. To be sexual is primarily to be relational.
Let’s peek slowly, patiently into this Pandora’s box. Reading secrets is not a matter of speed, just like you know – quality relationships. Can you count with your fingers people you know, or friends of your friends, or neighbors of your mother-in-law who live as unmarried, some happy, some shabby, single parents? My hunch is 3 would be your minimum. Now, if there are 30 readers of this post who averaged with 3, we get a sum that’s close to a hundred. Imagine the number leaping exponentially. Is this one face of the sexual “unease” I skirted earlier? It seems so.
Obviously, the irony is despite the cultural “sexual” openness of our generation, impregnated single moms tend to keep mum about the “accident” while the “boys” tend to project a kind of silent bravado over who they sired a child with without necessarily naming the “girl”. We often learn the fate of single moms from secondary sources, right?
This seems to be the case with my late maternal grandmother whom I personally met until I was 6 years old. My mother, who had no qualms telling her lifestory was never embarrassed at all to claim she was an illegitimate daughter of a once publicly adored man, perhaps a Kapampangan who emigrated and established his name in Silay City. The case, my mother said, was a forced-sex-in-the-office (or possibly a consensual one also) where my late grandma would hawk some foodstuffs in the cast of hardworking women who sell viands-on-cellophanes including laing or ginataang langka at government or private offices. One thing was sure – there was unequal power because my grandfather was a manager of that airline office. The devil is in the details but my grandmother was not bold enough to embrace the devil and so we are left with only a skull that has the face of a question mark. Besides, she grew up in the conservative culture of the 60’s.
My grandmother’s silence was all the more mummed not only by the social stigma but by the meager money she secretly received for less than a couple of decades ONLY, my mother receiving the crumbs that fell from the master’s table, minuscule at all for a lawsuit. If my grandfather had not received his education first from the morally keen Jesuits, and then from the La Sallian community in Bacolod while being a college basketball mainstay, would it make a difference on how he viewed his sexual, that is, relational responsibilities because there are neither names nor reputation nor social expectation to keep? If he had not been a basketball Olympian in Berlin in the 50’s, would it make a difference on how my mother would receive a “fatherly” care? If the family have not become a political bigwig in Silay City, would it make a dint of difference in facing the truth that their blood also ran in my mother’s veins? But then, it’s not about being big as Lasallian or Atenean or an Olympian or as a public servant, though sociologically, Filipinos remain as tribal as in the days of old in self-protection. It’s about this: blessed are the meek and humble of heart. Or this: blessed are those who weep over their transgressions.
The personal and the political, the sexual and social – it takes a transfigured, moral vision for their integration. The imagination alone is already a gift worth nurturing. I call this spirituality.
Photo by mag3737