Written: 6 February 2019
It is not my fault if people judged me from having the wrong impression when they confined me to their stereotypes. But to judge someone without having the facts or without even talking to them personally, is wrong. I never said I was poor, and I never said that I was rich either, but my grandmother taught me that if you have something to give to help people, you help them. So, being gifted with talents, I work. I worked starting at twelve years old in the family business as a form of training. She was also sick and alone most of the time, so I accompany her. Being the oldest of her grandchildren, it is also my filial duty. Eventually though, I learned that we work not because of money, but for the people who works for us and to those who need us. We were running a palay and rice trading enterprise where most of the poor farmers sold their palay to us and we would in return collect them and mill everything to produce and sell rice. We also hired laborers who are dependent of the salary that we give them. Thus, it is not all about money, but of providing opportunities and helping people indirectly.
She also taught me a lot of other things, so I was so sad when she died. No words could ever take that sadness away of losing someone you love. I also do not know what it means when someone say that time heals, because the truth is that time helps us to slowly accept the sad things as they are and focus on other things that matter, like our own life, friends, family, and career or work.
Photo by Jekoy Tse, 15 March 2017
So when she died, I accepted Juliette Kwee’s part time job offer while I was studying. I found that grief can be manageable when you distract yourself, and when you find a routine to get by. For me, it was work and art. I was working for my grandmother before she died every time I go home, and working under a NGO- World Experience Philippines, I found myself in an environment where I can be sane while being in a career path of my own choosing, which is Art.
Selfie With My Portrait of My Grandmother. 6 March 2018
It has been a year and eleven months since she died. The Chinese New Year also just passed by and it would be the first Chinese New Year without her. We weren’t also able to receive red Chinese packets this year because she was the one who used to give us. Even if I don’t look like Chinese, I feel sad knowing she is not anymore around for these kind of moments. However, I learned from Teacher Edz, one of the Boxless Society members (a support group for the mentally ill artists and their caregivers, which I volunteer at), that it normal to feel sad on someone’s passing, but it is better to memorialize them by remembering the good things and the good memories we had with them.
However, because I am weird or that because I like being weird, I want to memorialize the things that I’ve done after she died. I want to make her proud of me and that I wanted to be the person she dreamt me to be or at least hope for. So when they asked me as the oldest of her grandchildren and as on behalf of the family to deliver a eulogy on her wake, I did. It was the hardest speech I had to give. The entire venue was looking at me, silent. I started speaking and my nervousness was chased away br my grief. Somehow that made me feel powerful. I made people cry and I also made them laugh, but I stand because of her, because I wouldn't be here in this world anyway without her.
In the end, they congratulated me for my eulogy but that was the beginning of everything.
(See document attached for my eulogy)
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