When Staying the Same is OK

After nearly two decades, I had the wonderful chance of visiting the place I grew up in.

The houses looked small, and every step I took as I walked down its streets seemed like a stride.

I didn’t know if anybody there still knew me, for it has been quite a long time now and quite a few things have changed.

But as I was leaving the street where I grew up in — which my feet literally knew every inch of having played hide-and-seek and moro-moro or agaw-base countless times — I heard a familiar voice saying:

“Tinapa, daing! Tinapa, daing! Tinapa, daing!”

I saw the thin lady I used to see, shouting in the same tone the words I used to hear when I was a kid.

As we drew near each other, our small eyes soon met. I was reluctant to smile at first because I wasn’t sure if she would remember me. But she did.

We then greeted each other: “Musta po?” (How are you?). “Ganito pa rin,” (Still the same) she replied.

Though the reality that she still sells dried, smoked fish for a living may indicate lack of progress (which the tone of her voice also implied, and happily at that), her smile and mine meant much more.

Apart from the fact that she was proud of and content with her livelihood, I really just felt glad and thankful to God inside knowing that she was still there: Alive, well, and with a bright smile on her face. Oh, and with a little place in her memory for one of the many kids who have grown up with her tinapa and daing. Thankfully, some things stay the same.

A bull pulling a load of handwoven products sold on the streets of Manila. (Photo by rigorcruz)