He’s still looking at it. He smiled. That wishful smile.
There are three of us in the family. Three amazing gems, as what my father usually say. The three of us would laugh. It was cheesy, and teenagers find cheesy funny. The three of us are all in pre-adolescent stage. Me, Jj, and Noynoy---ages 18, 17 and 16, respectively--- are like steps in the ladder, as some find our age gap funny. Yes you can smile but don’t look at us; we didn’t come to life by magic. For three consecutive years, our mother was indeed pregnant. I admit, it’s a bit funny. Only a bit.
Living in Dipolog, life was basically a routine. Me and Jj competed against each other almost every day. We aren’t geniuses but we understand fast. Grades basically become the measurement. We read books, fight over a topic, and debated about proper grammar. Everyday was a battle of wits. Noynoy does not listen to us. He doesn’t join. He merely sits in a corner and plays his PSP. As the heated argument between Jj and me continues, Noynoy would yell “Stop! Too noisy!” That then marks the end of our fight. The youngest managed to gain control over his seniors. For a moment, time stood still. I was looking at him. He’s still playing. He knows I’m looking but he doesn’t mind. The truth is, we keep things low and simple with him. We do what he likes, and refrain from triggering some of his emotions. He has the tendency to just flip, to get really angry and do lots of weird things. We are afraid of that.
In the small city of Dipolog, Noynoy has interest on some other things, but certainly not on academics. He doesn’t like reading so much. He failed to finish high school on the DOST curriculum which is the highest among others. His grades were not as good as ours but it wasn’t that bad either. He likes the program Citizenship Advancement Training (CAT) in high school, which I hate. He marches around the house, refreshing the things he learned on training. Sometimes, he will hold the broom as if it is a rifle. He finds that entertaining, and in some ways, fulfilling. He likes action movies. He watches discovery channel “Surviving the Cut”. I thought it was about some documentary film on some science stuffs but I was wrong again, it was about military.
Noynoy graduated high school and I have set a game plan for him for college. We will just be staying in Dipolog. It’s better here. Not much big opportunities, but life’s easy. I want him to study some business or computer-related courses. I talked about it a lot, and even discussed it with my father. Dipolog provides enough, not a lot, but enough. I want him to go big and survive the real cut, which is life, real life. But whenever we speak about that topic, he would turn away. He is not really interested.
He seldom smiles. Maybe because our financial issues are also getting on his nerves. He seldom shows happiness. One time, while we are watching television, pictures played in the screen. Army. Soldiers. Fighters. He was watching intently. His face had lit up. I never saw him that entertained for quite a while now.
The last time I saw him smile that way was that ordinary Sunday afternoon. We were going to our tita’s house for a family gathering. As we passed by rotonda the P'gsalabuk Circle, there was this huge picture of a guy in a suit with the American flag behind. Theodore Karl “Ken” Quijano, a Dipolognon who graduated with honors from the U.S. Air Force Academy. I looked at Noynoy. He was dazzled. I looked at the big tarpaulin. Dipolog. U.S. Air Force. With honors. The words are slowly registering in my mind. I looked back at my little brother.
He’s still looking at it. He smiled.
Author: Joedith Micah Cadag
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