Pasko

Brgy. Batis, San Juan, Metro Manila

Dad had just got done unfurling the
Giant roll of firecrackers.
A roll so big it looked like the red cousin to our 40 foot
Garden hose slung over his shoulder.
He gave the thumbs up
And then you lit the fuse. 

Pop
Crack

The heat from the light
Forced us the shield our eyes
And we yelped with
Amazement at the miniature explosions
Happening like gunpowder dominoes.

It’d be 4 hours until the first news reports
Of accidental deaths and massive dismemberment
And all of it on show with either dogged determination
To assessing the real risk of such actions
Or understanding the fact that even if I’d wanted to
I couldn’t look away

And neither would the rest of us.

Outside in the portico
Our Lolo - well, not our Lolo
But that’s what we call everyone
Our Lolo’s age - held the
String on this contraption:
Like the top of a crab cage
But it was our claws stretching up
Towards the aguinaldos tethered to it
Which is ironic because we are Aguinaldos
Literally.
Figuratively.

And inside, our Titas who aren't our titas 
Served up tequila and karaoke
And said: “This is our tradition!”
Holding up shot glasses
Commanding us to toast.

I took a beat
One worthy of the 15 years
It’d taken to get here
And knew
In the marrow of my bones
That I was home.

 A  Lolo  who  is  my  Lolo . Ninoy Aquino Airport. Manila, Philippines. December, 2009. Credit: AJ Joven

A Lolo who is my Lolo. Ninoy Aquino Airport. Manila, Philippines. December, 2009. Credit: AJ Joven