Along the Highway


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Ninfa Trecho was employed in a secretarial job in the Ministry of Public Works; Georgie Tupas worked as a civil engineer in the Ministry of Public Highways. They both worked in then separate ministries of the today’s Department of Public Works and Highways. The first chapter of their love story began when Papa visited Mama’s abode without Mama knowing it. He patiently waited their along with his trusted friend Raul, who was an architect in the Ministry of Public Highways, and at the same time, Mama’s neighbor. When Mama went home, her puzzled face approached Papa. She thought, “What is he doing here?” Raul then formally introduced him to her. His succeeding visits, he did alone as he thought it would mean courage to confront her and her parents whose strictness may be compared to that of a Doberman.  What’s even more courageous is when he slept in Mama’s house in his later visits. In order to establish a closer rapport with my mom, Papa befriended Mom’s cousin, Tito Boy. He never visited without handing my mom a present, or presents (with an “s”), as he always gave them in bulk. He offered his gifts in abundance, extending from many sorts of fruits and vegetables such as bottle gourds (kalubay), pineapples, avocados, melons, and many more to ice creams, orchids, milkfish, etc.   Their first excursion was when Papa invited Mama together with their family and friends to spend bonding time in a river. While bathing in the cool water of the river, Papa made his move. He asked Mama to scrub his back with a pumice stone. Their bonding time was playing bowling and having dinner together with their officemates, all at Papa’s expense. Mama holds a degree in Commerce that’s why she sells cigarettes in her office and Papa buys whatever remains at the end of each day. As Papa’s courtship grew stronger, he decided to introduce Mama to his family at Hinigaran. It was followed by their trip to the mountains of Sipalay and Cauayan where Papa introduced her to every NPA head in the whole Negros Island. They then attended in the christening of a child of one of the NPA officers where Papa served as a sponsor. Escorted by NPA guards, they went home when Mama got a skin disease after having taken a bath in a well. For this reason, she was absent for a week. Papa visited her with a present: a decorative arrangement of wood, birds, and skin and horns of a deer. On Papa’s other hand was a goat. Mama accepted the first one but rejected the goat. Instead, she forwarded it to the landlady of the boarding house where Papa stayed. If Mama would recall their love story, it was more of a gift-giving pursuit. The courtship lasted for a year. When Papa asked to wed Mama, she had no single thought of hesitancy. It was a tradition before that before the wedding, the bride has to introduce her husband-to-be to her closest relatives, most especially the elders. It was already late at night, close to 12:00 AM but Papa hasn’t arrived still. The elders were already complaining but their impatience turned into fright when a loud bang sounded from the roof as if someone has landed. In Hiligaynon, may naghugpaas sa atop. The chickens, pigs, and goats in their yard also rattled in chorus which was very unusual. A feeling of terror embraced everyone in the house. After a while, Papa opened the door. The elders thought he was a tiktik. Although slightly scared as well, Mama convinced them that he’s not. Not to mention the other details of that meeting, let’s go directly to the wedding day. The motif was gold, as the elders have chosen that color. One of the primary sponsors was the landlady. And in return to my parents’ kindness, her gift was a young goat which, to their surprise, was the child of the goat Mama refused to accept. Their wedding day was the same day as Mama’s birthday (September 15) in the year 1981. About 6 years after that, on January 30, 1987, with the approval of the 1987 Constitution, the Ministry of Public Works, where Mama worked was merged with the former Ministry of Public Highways where Papa worked to become the present-day DPWH. Nice! Right? Since in Papa’s side, they were 8 kids in the family and in Mama’s side, they were 6. They added the two numbers (14), halved it and had the quotient as the number of their offsprings. Their love story is now 31 years in the making. To the readers, kindly thank the author, their fifth child and only son among the seven, and the most handsome lad in their clan, for writing this paper. I can see Mama and Papa nodding in agreement.

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