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tec sanchez-tolosa
tec sanchez-tolosa AS A young postgraduate medical intern, tension seized me everytime my resident or the attending consultant said "Crowning!" It was not so much the way they said it, it was what it stood for that kept me on my toes, teetering on my excitement in watchful (sometimes, anxious) anticipation.

Crowning refers to the moment during normal delivery when the baby's vertex begins to present over the mother's birth canal, signalling the near-culmination of nine long months of pregnancy and the much-awaited coming-out of the family's next generation. Potang sumilip ne ing bumbunan, ditak na mung dayas, misapwak ne keng masala ing pag-asa ning tutuking henerasyun.

Today I am no longer young and have gone a long way from the intern days. I am in a safe distance from all those delivery rooms, thank goodness! I look back and recall with a smile all the "crownings" I have witnessed and experienced. Then I look around and watch those that go on around me. There are actual crownings and there are allegorical ones, coming-out events that hold meaning in every way.

Three crownings were personal and vicariously learned: one boy, two girls—beautiful, articulate, assertive children who hopefully will propagate our gene pool and improve on it. Motherhood is no simple feat; it is probably the most difficult of all the jobs I've had to do. It is a long but rewarding, tedious but happy journey of discovery, trial and error, of new things to venture into or re-learn. As children grow, so do their mothers. Children learn from their mothers what these mothers learned from theirs; but from children, mothers (and fathers as well) get a chance to relive their life as a child—re-experiencing it with wide-eyed wonder and innocence, free from the cynicism and jadedness that sometimes befuddles their adult routines. As adults re-living their childhood, they are no longer powerless; in the here and now, they possess the capability to acquire those little things they missed out on! And to have the final say, finally.

I wonder from whose side the crowning is more difficult: the distraught mother, having to do those precisely-timed bearing down efforts, or the poor child, who is probably at his baby-wit's end wondering why in one minute he feels on his head this cold air-interface that is so different from his usual warm-bath waterbag, and in the next minute get sucked in again into the seemingly endless darkness.

Perhaps in his mind he asks: Oh where is the light? Where is the way to the new world that waits beyond?

In more ways than one, I suppose I've had my share of crownings. Not as a mother who dearly nurtured the baby inside her, but as the baby: leaving a sanctuary I've known, my comfort zone, to embark on a new journey of birth. Come to think of it, every step, every goal, even every day, is a crowning and a birth of sorts.

I spent my childhood in Manila, where my parents sent me in the belief that the best education at that time was in private exclusive schools—away from Pampanga, where I could have the chance to be recognized on my merit and not by my lineage. I used to resent it, but now that I am a parent myself, I thank them for the wisdom of that decision. Away from the province, we were raised as Kapampangans: we spoke Kapampangan at home, we ate arobu and kamaru and tagilo, tinolang tugak, menilup sabo ning sale manuk, minum suklating betirul. During vacations I savored with my brothers the sweet idyll of the provincial life. It was a perennial bitin: to have Pampanga only on Saturdays and Sundays, then be sucked back to the vortex of Manila and all the schoolwork/homework/unpleasant academic requirements it stood for. I grew up pining for the place I loved as home, even as my thought and concepts were liberal, creative and fanciful, sometimes outright worthy of excommunication (as far as my sarado-Catolico clan was concerned). There, I completed my education and training. In the midst of worthy colleagues and the prospects of high-gear professional upliftment, in my heart I was plain, and happily, probinsyana. Was proud to be, too. I always knew my hearth was Pampanga, wherever I was and no matter in what language I spoke. But my crowning was to come a lot later.

It wasn't after college, not even after Medicine. It was a few months after my residency, when my father opened the idea of practising in San Fernando. Daunted at first by the thought of tiring trips, the long travel time and the knowledge that I would be known as a doktor king probinsiya, kinuri mu rin ing natural: this is my chance, I thought. To finally be home. To do my thing there. On my terms.

Crowning.

After the years of waiting and the hurdles, armed with attitude (and all that academic know-how that comes in really handy in my line of work), I set up my practice in San Fernando, Pampanga. And with it, rediscovered many people and many things (that would be material for many other narratives of this type, God willing). Touched base with relatives, strengthened friendships, made friends with previous acquaintances. It was a job that allowed me to do what I had studied for, and as a bonus embark on a new trip into my Kapampangan history and heritage.

I knew I found my place. My little corner of the world that grows day by day, in terms of people, thought, potential. There is a new thing to learn everyday, a new world that waits a step beyond. Crowning, all over again.


[About the author. Tec Sanchez-Tolosa, MD is a full-blooded Kapampangan and a mother of three. A member of Pinoypoets since 2006, she is the author of the Kapampangan poetry collection "Ing Bie Kung Delanan, Ing Bie Kung Balikan (2006)." Some of her poems have been published in emanilapoetry and the online poetry journal Makata. While enrolled in her M.A. Creative Writing program, she was included in the anthology Sleepless in Manila. Tec is also a seasoned medical writer, with printed works in health publications and major dailies. She worked briefly with the ABS-CBN Foundation as a scriptwriter/researcher in the early stages of Sine'skwela. Raised in Manila and educated in St. Theresa's College during her formative years, she is a product of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where she graduated with a B.S. in Biology. She later became a Doctor of Medicine and trained in diseases of the skin, hair and nails. She is now a Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS) Board-certified Dermatology specialist with an active practice in San Fernando, Pampanga and Quezon City.]

-Posted: 12:12 AM 3/4/07 | More of this author on eK!
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