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My favorite little brother

Raul Ilogon .

ACTUALLY, there is something wrong with the title.

  1. He is my only younger brother.
  2. He is not little anymore.

He turned golden today.

Happy 50th birthday, Brother!

A few months before my mother died, she had our photograph taken. We are six siblings but in the photograph was only my mother, I and Jinggoy, my favorite little brother. Oh, there was “someone” else — Jacqueline, our dog, that gamely posed, too.

I remember mother had to send our maid to look for me in the neighborhood. But she didn’t have to look far and wide. I was always in my tambayan by Lapasan shoreline with shiny and glittering black sand.

I was either beneath the cool giant century old trees that lined the beach and the tall coconut trees that seemed to dance against the strong habagat wind or in one of the Uyapa 300 meters into the sea, jump diving. Ilogon Beach in Colambog, Lapasan was my home. In fact, my skin was bronze-brown due to constant sea and sun exposure. Yes, I looked like one of the Bajao boys you see in the streets today — no difference, including the brown hair.

I remember facing the mirror, combing my hair that took forever. I think that was the first time I combed my hair by myself. So, it took a while to fix the perfect hinapay with pomada para pinapilit gyud. Unlike today, picture-taking during our time was a big thing. You have to look your best — insert gyud bahalag maligsan. I’m glad I did because that was to be our last photo with our mother. She passed away a few months after that picture-taking.

Our mother died when she was 44 years old. Our eldest was only 16 years old. I was eight. The age of my other three older brothers and a sister was somewhere in between me and our eldest. But my favorite little brother, Jinggoy, was only two years old.

I think Mama knew what was coming. You have to be good because when I’m gone and your father will take another wife, at least, you will be treated fairly, she said.

I didn’t know what she meant at that time but her words stuck to my subconscious mind.

Fortunately and unfortunately, none of it happened — Papa’s love for her was forever. He never remarried. And I was far from good. I was lost and became a very bad boy!

I was a late bloomer, sickly and very slow mentally and physically. I was always hospitalized, in and out of the provincial hospital. According to our eldest, Manang Dolly B. Ilogon, I was always by my mother’s side because wala gyud kuy kalibutan.

But in the photo taken with my mother and Jinggoy, I noticed that was the time I started to get out of my shell. The camera captured my naughty smile which I found useful in chasing girls years later.

When mama died, Jinggoy and I grew up in two separate worlds. He, with a silver spoon. Me? Kinamot lang.

He was taken care of by my doctor aunt, Tia Chita. Me? I remember living in all my father’s seven siblings like a basketball round robin. Finally, I settled with my Tio Bebe who held the record of pinakabugoy sa Kagay-an at that time.

At the care of my rich and kind aunt who treated Jinggoy like her own, he grew up sheltered and protected. He was the apple of our eyes and he still holds that record until now, and also the most good-looking among us — second-second ra ko.

Jinggoy turned out to be a gentle and kind person, too, like my aunt and uncle who took care of him — boutan kaayo. Football is his only passion. He is a responsible family man with two lovely daughters with beauty and brains.

Me? Never mind.

I gave the family all kinds of trouble just like my Tio Bebe (pero wala ra ko sa kumingking).

Brothers will be brothers. We cried, laughed and fought together.

There was one big fight that I will never forget. I was in a fistfight against four and more was coming. In a thick of the fight, I noticed someone took my side and fought beside me… It was my little brother Jinggoy!

Jinggoy Ilogon, who grew up sheltered and protected (wala gyud sukad makabinugoy), came to my rescue.

Thank you, Jing. I will never forget that as long as I live. Happiest birthday, brother! We love you!

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