A light-hearted composition which takes us to a life lived by our Philippine farmers, the story Children of the Ash-covered Loam by N.V.M. Gonzales, is a wonderfully detailed written piece. It starts with Tarang, the main character of the story who was a young boy waiting for his father’s arrival after a hard day’s work. The boy had been given a piglet to take care of; it was a simple gesture of his father to give his child an idea about responsibility. Along with Tarang’s father was his mother, who complemented the work of her husband. In the progression, Tarang had come to learn the various work of the farmer. We see in this short period the growing maturity of our protagonist. The narrative was presented in clear detail, reading the story had felt I was actually there to witness the experience firsthand. The story provided quite a slice of life that we as readers, although having no experience in farming whatsoever, can relate.
A film portraying the personal experience of an OFW and how she has struggled to keep her identity as a “mother” to her children which she has not seen for several years, Anak (2000), takes us on a ‘feels trip’. The story goes with Josie, the central character of the movie, leaving her children and husband in the Philippines to go to Singapore in hopes of giving her family a brighter future. However, in the time she worked overseas, her husband had passed away leaving her children not a frame to look up to as parents. Josie’s eldest child, Carla, had suffered the most which resulted in great psychological shift in attitude. As Josie had finally returned from Hong Kong in hopes of settling down permanently with her children, she was faced with various dilemmas as she fought for the re-acceptance as a mother to her children. The film ended with a not so happy ending in which both parties, although realizing both of their errors, continued to suffer “for the better.”
While the story Children of the Ash-covered Loam wonderfully captured the everyday life of Filipino farmers and has brought us to a life lived by a nuclear family in the peace and quiet of the farmlands, the film Anak, however, brought out some harsh realities of families with broken families in which both the parent and children have suffered. It also showed their efforts, although not being a “complete” family anymore, in striving to keep up with an ideal family relationship. While most films about OFWs focus on their sufferings outside the country – the abuse and maltreatment they received, this film had given us another perspective. It focused on the problems in another side – the problems within the family which the OFW had left in her home country. Although I could not relate, and hope not to, with the feelings of the characters in the film, the pain which they have experienced have been clearly acted out that I could not stop myself from tearing up while watching.
I had been reminded once again that I have been blessed with a very loving family which would be ready to shower me with love that I needed. “A house is not a home without a family living in it.” Children of the Ash-covered Loam and Anak showed the two very different kinds of families. With Tarang’s family the ideal picture back in the day and Josie’s family as a harsh example of what family is today. In modern-day societies, the word ‘family’ is not anymore blindly described as a small branch of society composed of a mother, a father and children. A family, nowadays, may be composed with a single parent and child/children, same-sex parents and children, grandparents and grandchild, and even the strongest bond between friends has been labeled as ‘family’ by society. “Family” is a term which is dynamic and changing along with the views of society.