Conversations with Val, Round 5

7 Aug



Love is a ritual.

Before I leave
Papa’s voice always gets a little softer
A little lambing creeps into his invitation for me to eat something before I get on the plane
“Walang makakain doon.”
There’s nothing to eat there.
The table is always full
He spends the day cookin my favorites
This time the 68th time he’s done it
He knows what travels well
He know what spoils in my 6 hour plane ride
Four pots all going at once
They sit to cool for an hour
He makes a little extra
To put into disposable tupperware
He duct tapes it twice around the lid
Twice cross cross against the container body
He finds Ranch 99 bags
The strongest plastik, he says
To hug my ulam across the continental US
Ties the arms of the bag twice
Then he repacks my whole bag
To make room for
Pork adobo
Shrimp, Papa style
His love
His food
His embrace
His kiliti

And everytime I pull away from our driveway
He is the last person I say goodbye to
Because a part of him comes with me
To Brooklyn
As I unpack 3 plastiks
3 tupperwares
Duct taped twice around the lid
Twice criss cross for the 68th time
Written by Valerie Francisco


Love is a ritual.

My sister leaves.

Without me.

Without me seeing her off.

I had 12-hour day of supervising interns and late meetings.

And so, I was unable

To go with her

To the airport.

To say goodbye.

For me

And in this case,

The ritual of goodbye is hard.

I have seen her only once

In the last year and a half.

And distance

Conspiring with time


For many misunderstandings

And hard words.

It is also ritual

In our family

To let healing

Be done in silence.

Inarticulate as we are

In hugs,

We express with




Colorful names,

Shared experiences,


A mythology of a family.

And to tell you the truth,

The morning of her departure,

While she was half-asleep,

I called out, “Alis na ako.”

I’m going.

And pecked a quick kiss

On her forehead.

A good ritual for love and goodbye.

Written by Melanie Dulfo


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