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The Pancake Story.

I will always remember what my former CL111 prof and one of the Philippines' most accomplished writers, Dr. Butch Dalisay, said in our class. Storytelling is an integral part of our lives, no matter how seemingly unimportant these stories may be, "because it is in sharing these stories that we make sense of them." It need not be in the form of writing, even just the simple gossip session with a friend is a way of conveying a tale -- something deemed worthy enough to be shared with someone else.

My mom and I share this little secret storytelling game on the days leading up to my birthday. She would look at the date and tell me what she was doing on the same day in 1991. As a kid who grew up sleeping only after bedtime stories have been read, these anecdotes were not only the countdown to my birthday, but an entire narrative much bigger than all the fairy-tales combined: it was about me. I always looked forward to hearing about what my mom was feeling, what my dad kept telling her, what the food tasted like -- just everything about the week before I was born. But of course, the big climax would come on the 26th. I've heard the story 18 times before (and tomorrow would be the 19th) but it never gets old. Somehow, it will always feel like the first time.

It was the afternoon of the 25th and my mom just came home from her appointment. The baby was expected around the 1st or 2nd of November but because of the All Saints'/Souls' Day holiday, her doctor joked that she should hold it in until about the 3rd because he would be on leave. She was relieved that the baby was well and she never forgot to pass by the Church every afternoon before going home to say thanks, but a part of her was also anxious because the weight was getting too much. Nonetheless, she and my dad were very excited. So for dinner that night, he decided to treat her out at Pancake House. Feeling an immeasurable amount of anticipation and a gratuitous amount of hunger, my mom ordered almost everything on the menu: milkshakes, tacos, potatoes, ice cream, and of course, pancakes topped with a generous serving of whipped cream and maple syrup. A few hours later, my mom would feel her tummy rumbling and regretted eating too much earlier that night. But the stomachache she thought was answerable by a trip to the toilet ended up bringing her to the hospital on the morning of October 26, 1991.

In short, I was mistaken for poop.

I write this with an unwarranted sense of nostalgia -- I don't even remember this happening of course. That my mother chooses to remember these literally painful times in her life and gives them a comedic turn of events is beyond me, but perhaps it is because in sharing these with me we cement the bond we share long after the umbilical cord has been cut. Perhaps it in this story that she subconsciously tells me how much she is loved by my dad, bringing her to the restaurant and allowing her to eat all the pancakes she can eat, and consequently, how he will also do the same thing for me at any time (that is, to let me stuff my face with pancakes when I want to.)

Our entire lives are a culmination of small, little stories; sometimes independent of one another, sometimes irrefutably intertwined; sometimes long and extends for a period of time, sometimes brief and instantaneous; but almost usually it is not just the scenario that matters but also the way we tell them. There will always be stories told more often than others because they hold more meaning to us, and it's amazing how no matter how many times they've been repeated, they never stop being special.

That night will go down history as My Birthday but for me, it will always be the night of my dad's epic Pancake House treat and my mom's epic pooping. It's a story I was never quite actually a part of but I liked identifying myself with it. Somehow, I was there at Pancake House that night, I took part in that meal too. In fact, I was the beneficiary of that gobble-fest. I was so blissed out by all the food I ate that I just could not wait to get out already. I was an explosive thing waiting to happen.

If that's not an awesome story to define me and make sense of who I am, then I don't know what is. (Let's just forget the part that my mom thought I was poop.)

Here's to more stories for the years to come :)