Photo albums
Young Candida (center) and her sister Nenita Dinulos Carasus (left, standing) with classmates Linda Dizon, Marina Dizon and Linda Apigo, 1958.
Photo albums
NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2020 - 12:00am

It was the night when we all found ourselves at home still awake a little before midnight. Ever since the lockdown, we had been sleeping early.

Outside, the night was still; the street was quiet as the pavement was kept aglow by the yellow lights from the Meralco lampposts. The whole neighborhood of Gulod was quiet. Except for the sound created by the happy leaves of our narra tree dancing to the strong breeze on our front yard, everything was quiet.

Inside our house, there was laughter. There was a party of happy and reflective souls ruminating over tattered family photo albums. Those old pictures were a collection of photos of us given by friends and relatives. Others were photos taken using a borrowed camera. We did not own a camera before.

There was a photo of my Kuya Gadie seated beside our late maternal grandfather Catalino in the house of our aunt. It drew a big smile on my mother Candida’s face. It was the only existing photograph of her father. With that memento, her 76-year-old heart remembered her childhood. She saw in her mind all the trees the tomboyish girl in her climbed. The three star apple trees, avocado and guava trees in their yard came alive in her memory. She remembered walking to school from home and being part of the school program where she sang Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig and Bituing Marikit. She recalled how hard life was before but she remembered them now with a smile.

My only photo with my late father during my UPLB graduation, 1992.

“That one, I’ve been looking for the picture for a long time. I thought it got lost. I was only 15 there,” she said in the vernacular, pointing to the black-and-white photo where she was in the company of her sister Nenita and her friends. She took out the photo from the plastic covering. She adjusted her glasses from the tip of her nose and one by one she named the other people in the picture: Linda Dizon, Marina Dizon and Linda Apigo, all classmates of her sister Nenita in Laguna Institute where they were taking up a course in Education. The photo was taken outside the Dizon house in Lingga, Calamba.

My Kuya Gadie and maternal grandfather Catalino Papa Dinulos, 1978.

Every photo in the album had a story. And beyond the story was an even greater reminiscing. That black-and-white photo made my mother remember how she was the chaperone of her sister Nenita wherever she went, including to the canteen of her Ninang Charing in Lecheria in Calamba where her sister served as a dishwasher to earn 20 centavos, her weekly allowance in school. Her youngest sibling Rolando was always left at home because he was sickly.

There was a photo of her wearing a pink dress and white shoes and my father wearing white pants and plaid short-sleeved polo. It was the day of my high school graduation. A seamstress in the neighborhood named Aning sewed her dress from the fabric my mother bought in the dry market of Biñan. The white shoes, she borrowed from her best friend Patring. My father’s get-up was courtesy of my Kuya Gadie, who owned many clothes when we were younger, perhaps because he saved money from his earnings as a factory worker in Asia Brewery.

My parents Candida and Cresencio Tenorio Sr., 1988.

Nanay flipped through the photo albums like she was annotating life. Her raconteur nature was at its prime that night. An almost 30-year-old photo of me and my father surfaced — my one and only photo with just the two of us. It was my graduation from UP Los Baños.

“When your Papa Bum was a freshman in UP,” she told her grandchildren, “your Tito Rod and I would bring his additional allowance of P75 every Wednesday so he would still have money for his meals up to Saturday. He would leave the house on Sunday night to go to the boarding house in Raymundo’s with only P75, enough for him to survive up to Wednesday night. We couldn’t give the P150 lumpsum because we did not have that.”

“He asked for P250 weekly allowance because he said that amount was decent enough to survive in the university. But there was no way we could afford it, even if his two elder brothers were working in Asia Brewery.”

One of the happiest moments of my mother and father’s life, Nanay said that night, was the day I graduated in UPLB. It was the first time a member of the family finished college. They rented a big blue jeepney that my family and our friends from the barrio used to attend my graduation. There was a big basket of food — chicken pork adobo with chicken liver in a kaserola, rice wrapped in banana leaves, and “bottled” water (the long-neck bottles used for deep well water were the clean and empty containers of patis).

My graduation attire — a grayish pair of slacks and a maroon long-sleeved shirt that I borrowed from my cousin Phil and a psychedelic tie lent to me by his brother Syd. The jeepney was parked at the Physical Science building. It was sandwiched by a malachite green Mercedes-Benz to the right and a white Toyota Super Saloon to the left. I remember telling myself that one day my family would also have the comforts of life.

Modesty aside, I finished my Communication Arts course in three and a half years, instead of four. Even if the allure of the campus was conducive to overstaying in UPLB, I was overly zealous about graduating ahead of time because I wanted to help my parents and brothers put food on our table.

We were all in the middle of reminiscing and reverie when we heard the turkeys in our backyard gobbling with their loud and throaty shrills. My mother took it as a sign that we should call it a night. She gently arranged the albums and embraced them before stacking them again in the drawer.

That night, we embarked on the past and embraced it. We will celebrate it again one day. *

(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and IG @bumtenorio. Have a blessed weekend.)

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with