Andoy is already a father of five daughters. Still excited to finally see his next child, this time hoping for the nth time that it will be a boy . His youngest daughter is now turning eight.
Not really surprised, Andoy immediately dropped the basket where he keeps the backyard produce of sitaw (long bean) to follow Laleng towards the house.
They both felt the chilly, foggy air that usually occurs before break of dawn everytime Christmas approaches.
From afar, he can barely see his house... the roof is neatly made of nipa, the walls are sawali (bamboo walls). It’s back door ajar, waiting for him. He walked fast, almost ran towards the door.
That’s where he saw his wife, Trining, in labor and still trying to walk around. Holding his wife’s hands, Andoy said "Come on run Laleng and call Chayong!" Chayong is the elderly barrio hilot or midwife.
They continued walking inside the house as they waited for Chayong.
When Chayong arrived, she saw Trining limping from labor pains… "Andoy, your wife is about to give birth, boil some water. Then get yourself away from this house.. go to the kanto (street crossing) and don’t come back until she already gave birth!" (It was believed at that time that it is harder for women to give birth if husbands are around.)
As Andoy left to follow the orders of Chayong, he heard the midwife yell "Hey Trining, your water just broke! You’re about to give birth!" Andoy got confused and returned to the backyard vegetable farm. He continued picking up whatever produce there is and placed it on the native basket.
"Stop walking!" Chayong ordered Trining.
"Come here and lay on the Papag!" (Papag is a bed made of bamboo.)
Trining followed. She layed on the papag. Spread her legs, readying herself for the labor pains… Holding the headboard of the very strong, bamboo papag…
The Philippines. North Central Luzon. Early 70's.
Inspired by an original story. Names changed for privacy purposes.