Wednesday, February 07, 2007

1. Inauspicious starts

I was born in the city of Manila during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War Two. As most city folks have done our family migrated to the province to find better opportunities for food sources, which in the city was getting scarcer by the day.

My parents were Federico Roa, Sr. and Andrea Ner.

Seventh of eight children, I have always believed that my conception was unintended. The times were difficult and to add a seventh child into the family in inhospitable times was just not the thing to do. My parents went on to have an eighth child, Angelina, but this was during the clement postwar years. My mother might have had ambivalent feelings about her pregnancy. She might have intoned a mild invective when she found out about it, but at the same time felt happy, in an innate sense of well being that comes with maternity. It would be terribly cumbersome when she had to do hard work in wartime being with child. I could never have been anything but a burden. Besides she was nearing forty and pregnancies at that age can be a risk.

Despite the odds against my being brought forth there I was emerging in an unsettled world at a time when the powerful armies of bellicose nations of the world were afield trying desperately to annihilate each other. Had I known of the discord outside I would not have been as eager and aggressive to reach life’s portal. Just like in an early Woody Allen movie it was as if in the sperm pool, I was the short tailed one and the one voted least likely to get through and yet I did, swimmingly. But that’s how life begins… sometimes.

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