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Tribute to Ancestors: Part 1



I spent some part of my childhood with my Lola (grandmother), Puring. Some of my memorable moments of my time with her were about stories she told at the dining table about how she and my lolo (grandfather), Samuel, survived World War II. She told stories of being part of a mass exodus where hundreds of families walked together for days hiding and looking for food. I think of her wide eyes and her expressive words sharing how Lolo, a captain of a platoon, narrowly escaped Japanese soldiers looking for him by jumping off the ledge of a house and ran and ran with all his might because he was being hunted. I think of my 9 year old self at that table, facinated with the action movie version of the story in my mind while trying to muster the courage to finish my mungbean soup that I hated especially because I wasn’t allowed to get up and leave the table until I finished it.


For my lola and those who have survived war, those who had to walk for days to look for food, every grain of rice or bean was valuable. I think of her experience now that food is so valuable with panic buying in supermarkets and farmers’ markets closing down to help flatten the curve and prevent mass infection of the corona virus.


I regret the moment I snuck out of the table when she wasn’t looking and dumped the rest of my soup out of the window. I then got back to my table and told her I finished it. I think of it most especially that I was craving for this dish missing out on stocking up on something that I used to dread and now find comfort in.


In the days after the war, my lolo suffered PTSD like so many people who experienced it. I didn’t know until recently in my adulthood, that he turned into gardening as one of the ways to cope. This story gave me more meaning to my memory of watering the plants of my grandparents’ lush urban garden where we would harvest some fruits and vegetables. Most of all, it guided and affirmed my work with permaculture garden projects for communities affected by disasters and displacement.


As I prepare my dinner now, I’m thinking of the seeds I’m saving from what I eat, of the food I’m growing at my apartment, and the soil I’ve been preparing at the land I belong to gifted by my mother, ready to be planted with more fruits and native trees during the rainy season. I think of how we can hold space for designing a regenerative food ecosystem shifting in a time of collapse.


Perhaps its not just about the food but the memory that people survived something as life threatening as the world war is something I’m longing for these days… some food for the soul in a time of deep uncertainty.


I think about my grandparents today as I think about stories I would tell from the future, to my present self at the moment as if I was talking to my younger self on the same dining table. Who knows, it could also be my future grandchild I am speaking to about how we all survived what could be humanity’s most challenging great turning with the current global crisis we are facing today.


What story from the future would you tell?

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