Looking Back

My maternal grandmother has lived all the way down South in Bacolod City since 1997, so I don’t get to see her often. I’ve probably said more to her over SMS than in person since then. Isn’t technology grand?

Anyway, we were texting the other day and she mentioned that there’s a certain old film playing this Holy Week. “Kasama ako dun, extra, madre kami at tumutugtog ako sa organ. Pwede mo ba i-tape? (I’m in it, an extra, we were nuns and I was playing the organ. Can you tape it?)”

The film was Milagro ng Birhen ng mga Rosas (Miracle of the Virgin of the Roses), produced in 1949 by Sampaguita Pictures. According to my family history, my grandma was set to star in future films, but her boyfriend (and my future grandfather) didn’t want to lose her to the local version of Hollywood. The two were married shortly in their hometown of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, and instead of becoming an actress she became a mother to seven children.

I checked the TV listings, but the film isn’t showing on TV here in Manila. (50+ cable channels and nothing on!) The film must mean something to Grandma, who also asked my aunt if she could tape it. I think to her it represents what could have been. She jokingly texted me, “Ayaw kasi ni Grandpa. Grrr! (Grandpa didn’t want me to.)” But they say jokes are half-meant.

Life’s a series of choices. While picking one option among others doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility that you can avail of the other options later, there are some opportunities that are so life-changing that you can’t go back. It’s like that Back to the Future thing where Doc Emmett graphs the main timeline and the alternate timeline that splits off from it. Maybe Sliding Doors is a more apt comparison, but I haven’t watched it. BTTF was on my TV last week. Ü But in both these films the protagonists are given the choice to change it all back. In real life, you have to live with your choices.

I hope Grandma was well-compensated for her choice, even if it meant not getting her own time in the sun. I might not exist if she had gone a different way. Ü

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