Thursday, July 11, 2013

Two Sisters Portrait, Personal Essay by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I keep this picture in my apartment in Cebu. It's a large greeting card that I picked up in Hawaii and something in the image of the two girls resonated in me. The image could have been me and my older sister when we were young and living in my parents' house in Cebu, which had a huge and fabulous garden.  Mama had some prolific frangipani trees that flowered white, pink, yellow, and red. One of our favorite past times as children was to gather the flowers and string them into garlands. I still remember the strong heady scent of the frangipani flowers. I remember the velvety feel of the petals, the bit of sap at the tip of the peduncle.

My mother's garden was like paradise to me as a child. When the family finally settled in our house in the Capitol area, on a huge piece of property acquired from my mother's brother, Mama immediately set about landscaping the land. My father was in charge of designing and getting the construction done of the Spanish-style house; Mama handled the yard. She had flower gardens and fruit orchards, and there were all sorts of mysterious corners that I loved to explore when I was a child. A favorite activity was climbing the star apple trees where I would sit and daydream for what seemed like hours. We also had tambis, jackfruit, chico, lomboy, and many other trees and plants whose names escape me this Friday morning. 

The house had several verandahs that extended out into the garden. One patio, off of the kitchen, opened out to a play area with a teeter-totter and swing, where my sister and I used to play. At the end of the day, while the grownups sat on the swing -- I'm referring to the sliding swing with two seats -- my sister and I would be on the teeter-totter. She was older and bigger of course, and so we had our first lesson in Physics in trying to balance ourselves.  My brother would join us too, but he was eight years older than me, and so his mind was into other things aside from teeter-totters and swings.

We were a nice family then, with my Engineer father, and my Beauty Queen mother, and my two sisters and brother.

Now my father, mother, and brother have gone on ahead of us, and only the two sisters remain, and those frangipani days are gone.

Read also
The Bachelors and Femina Days of Cebu - Memorabilia photos
Old Photographs and Memories 
The Schools I attended, Part 1, St.Theresa's College
The Schools I attended, Part 2, UP & Maryknoll
The Schools I attended, Part 3, UCLA

Saying Goodbye to Papa
Where the Daydreaming Came From 
Death of a Carnival Queen

tags: family, Cecilia Brainard, travel, Cebu City, Philippines

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