Sunday, August 28, 2016

157. Notes on a Trip to Taal: #8 Orosa

In the movie, Memento, Christopher Nolan's lead character wakes up without a memory of his past. I have often questioned the plausibility of this premise, because a man with no memory should have no words, for our memory lives on our words. At the doorstep of the Orosa ancestral home today, I tried to recall where I stood exactly forty years ago as a kid one late morning to join the Orosa reunion.

As I went up the stairway, I saw the picture of Agaton Orosa, who was the brother of Isabel, my great grandmother. 
Why did our side of the Orosas leave Taal? Isabel left with her love, Pablo, and settled in Pola. But why did we never come back? The geologist in our tour mused that the volcano, temperamental as ever, was a natural adversary of the Taalenos. To live in this place is to live in constant danger. The volcano was active every ten years except in the last fifty years, but no one could tell when it would erupt again. Pablo and Isabel established their home in Pola, a bayside town in Mindoro island far from the volcano and its tempers. They tilled the land and prospered. But, they never left Taal. They brought with them their language, traditions, food, and stories. These stories are what filled the gaps of memory that separated me from Taal and the house that Agaton built. And so unlike Nolan's lead, as I stood there at the exact spot where I stood forty years ago, I am fortunately a man who carries the memory not only of my past but also of my family's roots. 

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