My Guest Blogger is Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough who retells a story. Carol has been my Guest Blogger in the past, so be sure and read her other work posted in my blog.
by Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough
I had the distinct honor and privilege to have been a guest at Angge and Manny Lahoz’ organic farm in Zambales during my vacation to the Philippines last January 2019. My cousin Ditas and I enjoyed the couple’s hospitality as they took us on a tour of the farm’s vast rice fields where we saw a carabao named “Glorioso” basking in the mud after a hard day’s work, while a Tagak (snowy egret) sat on his back and groomed him. We also walked around their “bahay kubo” garden where I saw, for the first time, cashew trees!!
We were housed at the second story of their building, where the sun peeking through the Capiz windows, and the neighborhood roosters crowing, greeted us each morning and provided the perfect setting for meditation before starting our day.
While everything about Angge’s Organic Farm provided spiritual nourishment to this traveler, Angge and her staff prepared nourishment for the body through their meticulously prepared, delicious and healthy meals. We ate breakfast, lunch, merienda and dinner at a large table that could easily seat eight people. Manny sat at one end, the “kabisera” and Angge sat to the right of Manny. Mealtimes also included story telling and sharing of experiences.
With Angge’s permission, I am retelling one of the stories she shared with us.
(as narrated by Angelita “Angge” Lahoz)
I want to tell you a story about a piano that gave of itself to generations of children from one big family so that they can learn and enjoy the music coming from within it, as the player softly tickled or pounced on its ivory keys.
I inherited this piano from my Lolo, by way of my aunt and then my dad. It’s something we did as a family, things like that was passed on. I was in high school when my Lolo gave it to me.
And then one by one, my immediate family moved abroad. When that happened, the piano was left with my mother and me. They wanted to trade in the old piano for a more modern piano, I didn’t want to but I cannot say “no, why would you do that?
Then my mother and my brother also went abroad, so the piano had to go somewhere else. As it was the family piano, it went from one cousin to another cousin’s house.
My cousin and their children all learned how to play the piano one way or the other, and then when I came back to the Philippines many years later, they said, “we want to return the piano; this is your piano so come get your piano.” So I said, “okay, give the piano to Project 8, bring it to Manila.”
The piano found a new home in my school in Project 8. I had a teacher who knew how to play the piano, so of course since it was in the school, he played the piano for the kids. And then all of a sudden, he left, so no more teacher, no more piano player.
Then my daughter tried to practice on the piano but it wasn't her type; she could play maybe one or two easy pieces, but that’s it.
So the piano wasn’t being used and then mice started getting inside the piano and it was getting more and more difficult to maintain it. I thought, “Oh my god, I cannot always maintain it if no one wants to play.” I also could not bring it up to my residence on the 3rd floor, it had to stay in the school on the ground floor.
So I called everyone, my cousins and their children and I told them, “I’m sorry guys, I cannot take care of the piano anymore. You know what, I’ve decided to bury the piano.” But because it was not just my piano but the family’s, I had to get permission from everyone, all my cousins, their children, everyone who used the piano.
They didn’t understand what I meant but they said, “it’s okay Tita, now at least you don’t have a big piano in your house, kaysa naman itatapon mo na lang di ba?”
I told them that in order for me to bury the piano, I’ll have to make it into a furniture. At the time I told them my decision, they did not understand what I meant so I had to show them.
Angge showed her family what she meant with her decision to “bury the piano,” and now she motioned for us to follow her as she wanted us to see where the piano is “buried.”
She lifted the tablecloth off of the dining table where we sat and ate our daily meals, exposing a glass table with a 4-inch wood border on all sides. As we looked closer, there in the middle, through the glass, we saw an intact piano soundboard with its ribs and bridges encased within the table. Angge could not contain her excitement as she described how she found “this furniture maker who will transform the piano into a beautiful dining table” and how he helped her with the difficult decision she had to make.
Angge explained, “If you look at the piano, it’s almost like it was buried, it’s buried, the piano is dead, the piano is dead and buried.” Yet, she continued, “The old piano reincarnated itself into a beautiful dining table, a remembrance of my grandfather who loves music, my aunties, and my cousins who enjoyed singing and learning how to play the piano.”
BIO: Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough is a long-time community activist involved in political, social and environmental justice causes. After pursuing careers in the private and public sectors, Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough joined the Asian American Studies Program at CSU Fullerton as an Adjunct Professor. In 2016, Carol retired from teaching to spend precious time with her grandchildren and in "cultivating and nurturing" a more creative life. Carol is an avid gardener and enjoys finding ways of preserving the fruits of her labor. Contact info: [email protected]
Tags: #Philippines #Filipino #story # nonfiction #literature