Sunday, February 5, 2012

Call Me "Beautiful"

I have often heard that  beauty is in the eye of  the beholder.  I am not sure though, if that was said in half truth. As a young kid, I had learned that beauty comes in different packages. At times, even in the strangest ones. And being that young sometimes make it confusing, even laughable for that matter. Good thing it was not only me who shared that feeling, at that time.

My only sister, Xenia, had always been inquisitive and verbal on things that she found odd, sometimes to the point of getting into trouble. Some people may find that cute while others would rather have told her to mind her own business. But one rarely discourages a kid's curiosity and stubbornness, especially if one encounters it almost every day.

My sister and I had lived the first six years of our school life with my mom and her colleagues. Since we were surrounded by adults after school, we can not help but notice and learn a lot of small talk about teaching and every thing in between. Funny, my sister and I kind of enjoy hearing (and learning) school gossip with our naive ears. And with all kinds of topics and personalities that have been talked about, one person caught my sister's attention. So much that she had the nerve to ask my mom this question.

"Mom, is she a male or a female?"

My mom was not able to contain her laughter upon hearing this. My sister was referring to the big boned woman who always wear pants when she should be wearing skirts for their school uniforms. (This was in the 70's when women teachers were required to wear blouses and skirts for their uniforms). She did kind of look "odd" not just because she dressed up differently. There was something about her that my sister and I can not understand, at that time.

And my sister just got more annoyed with my mom's answer.

"What do you think?" I think she even added, "You may want to ask that question yourself."

So the next day, after school, when most of my mom's colleagues  were about to head for home, my mom told the story. What more, the big boned woman, who my sister referred to was there. And to my sister's surprise, the big boned woman took her hand and squatted so she can be at eye level with my sister. Then she said,

"My name is Sada,  Starting today, you can call me "beautiful."

Ellen DeGeneres, A beautiful person inside and out  
(image credits to people. com )

I almost laughed when she said that. Not just because of my sister's reaction but because, judging from what I understand the word "beautiful " then, Ms Sada will, in no way, fit such description. Not that I am being rude. When I heard the others  laughed, I knew we shared the same opinion. Almost all of them told us that Ms Sada was lying. That she should not let us misuse or abuse the word considering that we were kids. And that made it all confusing. Which elicited more laughter from the group.

So from then on, my sister had a new found friend whom she was obliged to call, "Ms Sada, the beautiful." But that did not stop her asking my mom again.

"Why does she wear pants? She is a woman right?"

It turned out that  Ms Sada, who was also a teacher happened to be a lesbian. She requested to be transferred to the same school where her object of affection was assigned, who was mom's friend. They were actually befriending my mom  so Ms Sada can get to know her more. She did not care if that will put her work at risk because they were in the school premises. A woman to woman relationship at that time was still considered taboo.

Well to me and my sister, it was not only taboo, but also confusing. I have to admit, I was kind of aloof when I learned about that.  Somehow  that did not lessen my respect for teachers. Perhaps because they were authority figures . Perhaps  I was just too busy studying, even too young to care .

Until one day, when my dad left me and my siblings to buy some materials for the house repairs, we were surprised to get a visitor. It was Ms Sada, and when she learned that she was in the right house, she welcomed herself in, like it was her home. She always exuded that authority figure, which made me more aloof. She asked where my dad was, and after telling her where he went, she lighted a cigarette and started to smoke. I also noticed that she walk, time to time, as if she was trying to relax herself. Odd, even , that she did not oblige my sister to call her "beautiful," which had become a greeting of some sort, when they were in school.

When my dad arrived, I told him we have a visitor. Ms Sada introduced herself, and without further
explanations, she told her why she was there.

"We  rushed your wife to the hospital. She was bleeding. I think she had a miscarriage. Sofia is with her."

So mom's friend  ultimately became  Ms Sada's girlfriend. She had won her heart and trust, including my mom's, despite how unconventional their relationship was.

"My dad, upon hearing my mom's condition, excused himself, saying he just need to change clothes. But what Ms Sada did next surprised me and my siblings even more. She entered the room and barged in while my dad was in the process of changing. My dad did not know how to react with this sudden invasion of his privacy.

"Please hurry," she said, "she had lost a lot of blood. " 

My dad  did hurry, not only because a woman was watching him dressed up but because of my mom's predicament. After telling me to watch over my siblings and that he will be back in a short while, he and Ms Sada had left.

Years had passed, and all of us had grown and out grown a lot of things. The last time I saw Ms Sada was at  Xenia's wedding, when she requested to have her picture taken with the newly weds. She is still with Ms Sofia. 

My mom and I  still talk about the two of them. The last time I've heard, she told me that Ms Sada had been in and out of the hospital and that the findings were not good. Finally she told me that Ms Sada had cancer. And that Ms Sofia is still there to take care of her. They were still together.

I could not help but feel sad about what I have learned. The big boned woman who insisted on being called "beautiful," who had been the center of laughter, and who stunned society because of her unconventionalism had been a good friend to my mom. And after all this time, I still can not figure why she came to accept that even then. So I asked her why she did not disagree with their relationship at that time. I even pointed out that she was and still is a conservative person, yet she became Ms Sada's friend.

She told me that, Ms Sada had a heart of gold. Not only that she was fun to be with, she was  also easy to get along. It may be true that she chose a life that was less traveled at that time, a life that elicited a lot of small talk because she had followed her heart, but she really cannot find fault in that. Besides, they were both single, and because they both loved teaching they made sure  their relationship will not get the way when they work.  She added that she will never forget that day when she almost bled to deathbecause of her miscarriage and Ms Sada and Ms Sofia were there to help her.

"You still remember that, do you?" she asked.

I told her I still do.

And I'm glad I asked. 

(I visited my hometown and spent Mother's Day with my mom and seven kids. Mom  told me  that her good friend Ms. Sofia, had crossed over last March . Ms Sada, though very ill is still alive . Though it tears me so much to visit her and see her condition, I  just chose to repost their story on friendship and undying love ) 


  1. Beautiful can mean so many things. Our society puts too much on the outside appearance as being beautiful when it goes so much deeper.
    This was such a touching story.

  2. I agree Chelle. I am so glad that I have learned the real meaning of beauty early in life. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Hi Ate, at the beginning of your story I already figured out who's the subject of this story, but had doubts when I read her name as Sada, coz what's familiar with me is Kasada, the way my mom addresses her... ok now it's clear it's really her.. or him? hihihi Ka Sada and Ka Sofi. Funny that even if your house is just a stone's throw away from ours, all your stories sounds new to me. Basta the definition of malagu for me is Mallari... agree or disagree??? Kaya when people say they thought I am your sister, I feel proud kasi malagu tamu. hahaha -Malou mallari Rodriguez

  4. As the first commenter said, beauty is SO much more than skin deep. In fact, I don't think it has anything to do at all w/outward appearances. Beauty comes from the soul. Loved your story! Thank you for dropping by my blog as well. ~Blessings, Shelly