I Prayed For Snow
Exactly 31 years ago.
The year was 1987, at half past five our neighborhood was unusually still. Around this time the roosters in my uncle’s backyard should have been belting their throats announcing an almost ceremonial arrival of the sun, but to no avail. I extended my neck to reach the lowest panel of the closed jalousie window only to drop my jaw upon sight of a cloud-like blanket hanging on our street. It was the coldest day recorded in my hometown of Taytay, Rizal.
While my mom cooks the leftover tikoy from the preceding weekend of Chinese New Year celebration, I tried opening the door when an invisible frigid wall hit me and I felt my soul almost dragged out by the gust. It was a foreign sensation to say the least. Similar to opening a refrigerator door but the cold air was coming from outside the house, not from the old and tired monster in our kitchen we endeeringly called White-Westinghouse. And for once no one was screaming “Wag mong pag-laruan ang ref! Lalabas ang lamig!”
I honestly prayed that sunrise would reveal a fluffy pile of white powdery flurries. “Please Baby Jesus, even just a single flake of snow.”
Taytay Rizal, is a lake town in the main island of a tropical archipelago, West of the Pacific Ocean. However, come September, the mood switches from tropical island to polar laplands real quick. Christmas was ironically characterized by imageries of a sparkly winter wonderland: Our holiday window displays were nothing but dreamy scenes peppered with white styrofoam shreds; the radio stations mockingly play songs about some snowman named Frosty being chased by the cops; and the ubiquitous rings of sleigh bells could be heard signalling the start of the yuletide season. We also dance around the plastic tree of hollies and evergreens, until our Lola brings sheets of newspaper to line our sweaty backs and frothy armpits.
Thanks to the older generation, colonial-consumerists’ holidays ingrained these fantasies and delusions of us having a winter season one day. So I know the time will come when our streets’ filthy canals will freeze hard and I will be able to skate from our gate all the way down to Laguna Lake.
If I knew what Global Warming was about back then, it could have cemented these (false) hopes in the canons of my childhood reverie.
But damn, I prayed hard.
It was in 1990 when the heavens may have finally heard my petition. Payanig sa Pasig managed to put up a Winter Wonderland attraction where you get a “real snow” experience right in the middle of an open lot across Ortigas Center. Excited was an understatement, I couldn’t utter a word while we line up to the door draped with thick transparent strips of linoleum. But I guess the only new thing I experienced then was how real-life disappointment feels like. It was a tent with a second-hand ice cannon used to pump ice in ski resorts to supplement real snow—but for me it was more like a loud, gasoline-fuelled ice shaver ricocheting lumps of halo-halo ice ten meters up the ceiling. Bitch, run for your life.
If I knew then that one day, I will be able to travel to experience a real winter, my first snow experience may have been less magical for I may not hoped hard enough. And perhaps the excitement building up towards each of my winter trip would be just an anticipation and not how it always actually turned out to be–Overly Dramatic!
Today 31 years ago, my imagination was awakened by something most people despise. For that coldest morning in Taytay, taught me a life lesson I still strongly live by today. One could always dream and if one would dream hard enough, the universe will make ways.
I went to school that day wearing a bonnet from a stuffed toy, kitchen mittens and a Good Morning towel arbitrarily thrown around my neck.