letter to young Erlinda, 19, from future son Noel


happy birthday mom!

Loving something, or someone more than yourself is a celebrated form of love throughout history and literature, but in reality the best proof that we have of selfless love is in that of our mothers. Over our lifetime and beyond, we can never show enough of our reciprocal love and appreciation for them. My mother celebrates her birthday today, enough said. What better time to tell her she is the best?  Happy birthday mom!

VIA SOME unheard-of technology, powered by a new unlimited and clean energy source and infra-infra range temperatures (discovered by those recent Nobel Prize winners), my body has been transformed into faster-than-light particles (and back to my body) that easily traverse the time-space continuum.  I’m not drunk or dreaming, this is actually happening.

Because it’s an auspicious date today, my mother Erlinda’s birthday, I select her last birthday as a dalaga (a maiden or single lady).  I alight from the time travel highway (for lack of a better term) in 1958, when the Philippines was a virtual 51st state of the American Union, and everything was much cleaner, less cluttered, and less populated than today.

Almost immediately I’m stuck by a quandary: I want to tell Erlinda all the things that will make her future a happier and better version based on my particular hindsight and peculiar foreknowledge, but if I do so, I might change fundamental aspects of our family history, including  (and especially including) my existence and that of my four brothers.  I’ve seen too many time-travel movies not to know that your (altered) past (literally) eventually comes back to haunt you.  I might even unwittingly influence (hopefully positively, but hoping NOT negatively) the lives of countless others my mother touched, and continues to touch today.

I want so much to see her and talk to her, but ultimately decide not to. Instead I write a letter and have it hand-delivered to her.

“Dear Erlinda :

“I don’t want to scare you, but I know quite a lot about you.  I know that you will get married soon, and that you want to start a family very soon after that.  But with the help of technology, I have the gift of knowing far more than that.  I know that you will succeed being both wife and mother, friend and lover.

“Because of your natural gift of canniness and improvisation, you have been successful in your various endeavors.  But you’ve also had family behind you.  I know that you’ve paid this forward, and will continue to pay it forward in the next few decades.  I don’t know if this foreknowledge will help you, maybe a self-awareness will make it even better.

Spur your children to greater heights.  You will always be there for them, but inspire them to make better use of their gifts, and do more to improve lives around them.  These sound like lofty platitudes, but when it comes from you, it will count for more.  Don’t ask me how I know, I just do.

Take better care of your health.  Like many women of your generation, you will be eating smart and avoiding vice (unlike your menfolk).  The problem is, your preference for certain foods and having to carry five strapping male babies to term will take its toll on your body, still youthful now, but human after all.  It sounds blunt and clinical, but watch your weight more and avoid sugary and starch foods like the plague.  It will be worth it.

And lastly…

Try to have a daughter.  You will have no shortage of sons, grandsons and granddaughters.  But you are too beautiful to not pass on your looks to a daughter.  As they say, pagandahin ang lahi (improve the race) at magparami.

“Beyond these trifling pieces of advice, there is nothing more to say to you.  You will lead a near-perfect life.”

From 2016 to 1958, happy birthday Mom, I love you forever.

Your future son