As The Bamboos Sway: Safe from the Chaos of the Outside World


Yesterday I sat by a cluster of fountains. The main center spout spurted at least 10 feet high, reaching for the midmorning clouds dotting the azure skies. The rest, a dozen of them, swayed with equal reach of at least five feet around the center. Altogether, they were a wonderful sight to behold apart from the tiny rainbows that broke the sunrays to the colors that they are. Moreover, the thunderous splashing from each spout produced a musical cadence that harmonized into a magical choir that stirred my very soul.

I closed my eyes and traveled deep within the recesses of my innermost being. I could only hear the splurge of water, the spurting, the swishing. Then I traveled back in time. Very very far. So far in time that I was swishing within amniotic fluid, safe from harm of the outside world, within the womb of my mother.

She was a domestic helper.

Yet I was safe, even beyond carefree, as she washed mountains of clothes for her ‘amo’. Yes, I was safe as she juggled herself from washing to cooking; to serving her ‘amo’s’ household breakfast, lunch, and dinner; making sure that the children were ready for school; and that the baby was bathed, clothed, fed, and smelling good.

Yes, apart from everyone, she took care of the ‘amo’s’ baby while having her own yet to be a baby, me, safe, swishing within her womb.

She used to be just a simple child playing with her siblings and monkeys that swung from banana to coconut trees in the hinterland mountains of San Fernando in the Province of Cebu. Growing to be a young lass, she had to help in the family’s sustenance and upkeep. She had to wake up before dawn to cook rice and viand by the hearth. These, she would carry on her head down the trails as the day breaks to peddle at the foot of the mountains. Those sustained by her cooking would start the bustle of life at the growing town after they have rewarded her with jingling coins to bring back, trekking home.

This was her life till the Japanese invaded the Philippines where she almost died.

After the war, she heard of a place called Manila. She heard that lights there glittered like the stars in the sky. She also heard that there is a lot of money to be had and she would almost be like in Paradise – never to wake up at dawn again to cook for peddling down the foot of the mountains and people who paid her with mere jingling coins.

She dreamt of the lights, the money, and Paradise. She forced herself to wake up earlier and cook some more to peddle at the foot of the mountains. She did so to earn more jingling coins until she had enough for the ship ride that would bring her to what she thought was Paradise.

Not knowing how to read and write, she ended up as a domestic helper.

At least she did not have to wake up at dawn anymore. Nonetheless, she had to wake up. She had to wake, no longer on her own for the sake of the people at the foot of the mountains, but for the ‘amo’ and his household. She no longer had to trek down and up the mountain trails but had to juggle herself around the house of the ‘amo’, washing clothes, cooking, preparing children for school and taking care of a baby not her own.

Until the time of my birth. Squeezing myself out of her womb as she pushed like she did not like me inside her anymore, I was being pushed of my safe amniotic dwelling.

I was no longer safe. Outside of my mother’s womb, I was no longer safe.

I have entered the chaotic world where there are ‘amos’ and there are domestic helpers.

I cried. I cried. Loud.

The thundering fountains became annoyingly loud.

I opened my eyes.

A couple passed by me. They were talking about how appalling was the Chicago shooting. #


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