Biag Ni Lam Ang Toh

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Date Submitted: 06/24/2012 06:46 AM

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I was born in Calamba on 19 June 1861, between eleven and midnight, a few days before full moon. It was a Wednesday and my coming out in this vale of tears would have cost my mother her life had she not vowed to the Virgin of Antipolo to take me to her sanctuary by way of pilgrimage. (02)

All I remember of my early days is I don’t know how I found myself in a town with some scanty notions of the morning sun, of my parents, etc.

The education that I received since my earliest infancy was perhaps what has shaped my habits, like a jar that retains the odor of the body that it first held. I still remember the first melancholy nights that I spent on the terrace [azotea - Zaide] of our house as if they happened only yesterday -- nights full of the saddest poem that made impression of my mind, the stronger the more tempestuous my present situation is. I had a nurse [aya - Zaide] who loved me very much and who, in order to make me take supper (which I had on the terrace on moonlit nights), frightened me with the sudden apparition of some formidable asuang, [ghosts], of a frightful nuno, or parce-nobis, as she used to call an imaginary being similar to the Bu of the Europeans. They used to take me for a stroll to the gloomiest places and at night near the flowing river, in the shade of some tree, in the brightness of the chaste Diana. . . . . Thus was my heart nourished with somber and melancholic thoughts, which even when I was a child already wandered on the wings of fantasy in the lofty regions of the unknown.

I had nine sisters and one brother. My father, a model of fathers, had given us an educational commensurate with our small fortune, and through thrift he was able to build a stone house, buy another, and to erect a little nipa house in the middle of our orchard under the shade of banana trees and others. There the tasty ate [atis] displays its delicate fruits and bends its branches to save me the effort of reaching for them; the sweet santol, the...