Promdi

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    ‘But yes, part of me wishes that my father could see what I’ve done to his house. I suspect he would be proud of what I’ve done, and prouder still that I’ve turned into a “promdi” like him.’

    I WAS talking to a friend born more than two decades after me and I mentioned to him that my two “sons,” Hayden the Shih Tzu and Apollo the Maltese, will be “promdi” starting today, because today is my first day of exile in Laguna.

    “Promdi? What’s that?” he asked, and that’s when I realized we had a “generation gap.” For folks my age, I told him “promdi” was short for “from the province,” and referred to other folks (like my dad) who spent their formative years not in the urban areas of the Philippines, especially not in Metro Manila.

    (Another word sometimes used is “cyano,” short for “probinsiyano.” Yes, the word that has become part of every millennial’s vocabulary, thanks to the TV series that catapulted Lito Lapid back into the Senate.)

    My dad was a “promdi,” having spent his grade school and high school days in Laguna, where he finished high school in three years and at the top of his class at that. For my father’s graduation, no less than former President Jose P. Laurel awarded the valedictorian’s medal, captured in a photo which I once showed to Vice President Doy Laurel. Being valedictorian also meant that my father had a free pass into UP – because at that time valedictorians and I think salutatorians of public schools were automatically admitted into the State University.

    Being “promdi” had its benefits, I guess.

    While my father’s roots are in the two Laguna towns of Paete (his mother’s hometown) and Alaminos, it is the latter town which he considered “home,” the town of his own father. And mine took pride on the fact that he lived in a house on Baylon St., named in honor of a great, great, great (?) grandfather who founded the town during the Spanish era, with the support of a Spanish official surnamed Alaminos. So that’s why the town is named such and the street is named such.

    My father died in 2016 and he left the house on the street corner to my older brother and I. Being the one in the Philippines I took it upon myself last February to save the house from rot; and finally, after fits and starts, thanks to lockdowns, the work is complete. In fact, today (and for a month-long period) I will be its resident after the contractors packed up. They’ll be saving my place of residence in BGC from going to seed next, hence my need to evacuate and go in exile.

    Thank God for Microsoft Teams and Zoom and Viber group chats.

    So I am now the promdi, and so are Hayden and Apollo. I guess eventually they’ll realize that city slickers they no longer are, and will hear different sounds (roosters, motorcycles, karaoke, the church masses broadcast over loudspeaker, etc) and enjoy fresher air. They’ll also have a bigger floor area to run around in, though it also means they may not see me most of the time even if they could smell me.

    It’s been years since I last slept in this house, really maybe 20 years or more. All the relatives I knew from my childhood days are dead, too old, or abroad. So I am like a stranger in this town with only memories of sights and sounds to connect me to the past.

    Not that I am asking for “visitors!” I am happy with the memories, thank you.

    But yes, part of me wishes that my father could see what I’ve done to his house. I suspect he would be proud of what I’ve done, and prouder still that I’ve turned into a “promdi” like him.

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