June 26, 2024 (8:05 PM)

4 min read

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Graphic by Daniel Gallego

Contributed by Maria Sophia Tancinco

Mommy Virgie was someone I have known as a ‘visitor.’ He used to live in a bahay kubo that stood beside our former residence in Catitipan. It was shady and cool there, so I loved visiting his quarters. My memory does not serve me right whether he was fond of me, but one thing was sure: he kept my sister’s projects safe and unscathed from my destroying hands. 

My achi would ask him to keep her projects safe because, by the words of my family, I destroy things I would touch; I was a child back then. Can you blame me? But I would bug him to show me the mini house she made for a presentation. I vividly remember it was already nighttime, but I knocked on his door and brought a flashlight so that he would show me the tiny home I was so curious about. 

Mommy Virgie left the world 18 years ago, between July and September 2006. He was in his late 60s and early 70s then. My father took him to Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a home for the aged where Indian nuns took care of him until he departed his life. 

He was a cook in my great-grandmother’s eatery in the late 60s. But before that, he had difficulty finding a job because of his past. You see, he was an ex-convict. He was charged with murder– a crime of passion because of love. Mommy Virgie ran away from his hometown: Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, at a very young age because he had an abusive father. So, he hoped for greener pastures in Manila. 

There, he worked as a cook and met a male student. They both got into a relationship, and he was happy– not until one night, he saw the guy with his arms wrapped around a girl, looking so happily in love. His heart was crushed when he found out she was his girlfriend. He was devastated and felt so miserable that one night, when the guy attempted to lambing-lambing him and to milk him for money, out of spite and resentment, Mommy Virgie stabbed him when he turned his back. 

From there, he was charged with murder. He then served years in the Davao del Norte Penal Colony. By the grace of presidential pardon, alongside other gay prisoners, they were free to go. They were bound to Davao City to look for another chance in life, and he met my family there. 

No establishment would hire him because of his crime record and because of social stigma. One day, he came across my great-grandmother’s eatery. It was positioned in an area surrounded by bars and clubs. My family accepted him with wide arms because they had a common ground: they were Ilonggos. My great-grandmother was fond of him and hired him as a chef. He also helped around the house, especially my grandmother, who had just given birth to her twin children.

He lived with them for roughly around 20 years. The cycle would continue with on-and-off relationships, leaving the house and returning until he finally settled in Tibal-og, Davao del Norte. He found a life there and happily lived– or so we thought. 

He contracted an early-onset cataract because of his line of job. After discovering this, he fell into depression and attempted to take his own life. Luckily, our relatives who tended our farm in the same province heard of rumors and checked it for themselves. The rumors turned out to be true, so they rescued him. My uncle fetched and brought him back here in Davao, where we cared for him. 

Years may have gone by, but he remains in my mind. The array of what-could-have-been thoughts linger and pull me into a state; if he knew I was an advocate for LGBT rights, would he have supported me? Would he have scolded me if he knew I shifted three times and almost gave my parents a hard time? The who-knows and whatnots cloud my mind because of a figure that was merely in my home but resided in my heart forever. 

Part of my activism and support for LGBTQ+ rights are because of him because he deserved that second chance in life. He deserved to be loved and not treated as a cash cow. He deserved genuine and pure love, with no ill intentions in hindsight.



End the silence of the gagged!

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