Before the start of a “tong-it” card game with a fellow journalist and an exec of the Clark Development Corp., I apologized to them because I had no loose change. I confessed that my wife Lynn had taken all of the coins and bills of small denomination in my pocket.
On hearing this, the CDC exec replied: “Buwenas ka. Ang asawa ko, barya lang ang iniiwan sa akin.” (You’re lucky. My wife leaves me nothing but loose change.)
Looking back, I’m convinced I’m indeed lucky—and it’s not merely because my wife takes only loose change from my wallet. Hey, in case you’re wondering what my wife had to do with “Inside Congress,” I beg your indulgence for there’s no connection except for the fact that my wife is the unquestionable Speaker of the House. You see, Lynn and I will be celebrating our Ruby Wedding Anniversary on Friday, Jan. 31, and I just can’t let the event pass by without shouting to the whole world what a wonderful wife I have had.
My wife is the daughter of our former tenant in Lupao, Nueva Ecija. I disregarded my parents’ wishes to immigrate with them to the United States (they were disillusioned after all of our agricultural lands were subjected to land reform) and married Lynn in civil rites without their knowledge.
My parents and I reconciled a few years later when I wrote them a letter asking for their forgiveness but stressing that I couldn’t leave Lynn behind. The United States might be a land of milk and honey but heaven is no heaven without Lynn. For me, Paradise is any place where she is by my side.
Some who knew of my temper and irresponsibility predicted that our union would be short-lived. Well, they were surprised when they saw me later to be a completely changed man and our marriage had remained as strong as when we started. For this, entire credit goes to Lynn who brought out the best in me. Whenever my sisters visit us, they are always profuse with thanks to Lynn for taking good care of me, for loving me, and for reforming me.
We have had spats but definitely, we had never fought over money, not even when we were financially down. What’s my money is her money, and what’s her money is her money. Oops. The fact is, she handles all our finances. I give her my full pay and I guess this is the main reason why we were able to save much. When she gets the money, she deposits a certain amount immediately rather than wait for the end of the month. She argues that she couldn’t save anything if she’ll wait that long.
Unlike some persons from poor families who spend like crazy when they have money, Lynn spends mainly on necessities, sometimes on comforts, and rarely on luxuries. Too, unlike some who have unchained themselves from poverty, Lynn never hid her humble beginnings. She would invite her friends to Mapangpang, the village in Lupao where she was born, and introduce her siblings, all farmers, to them without a tinge of embarrassment.
Like my late mother, Lynn could give away sacks of rice to rarely seen relatives and visiting close friends. However, she would pick up grains of rice that fall on the floor because she doesn’t want anything to go to waste. No food is ever thrown away in our household.
My wife is emotionally stronger than I am. When I learned that she had a rare form of cancer called acinic cell carcinoma, I was devastated and cried openly. Do you know that she was the one who consoled me? She hugged me and told me not to worry because she would survive this disease. She said she was prepared to accept anything that God had in store for her.
I never saw her complain after the operation that removed the tumor from her salivary gland and after undergoing a series of radiation therapies. Her main lament was she might not be able to help her community as much as she wanted to. Although still weak after the therapies, she returned to Mapangpang and taught wives of farmers how to cut and sew dresses. She was also the driving spirit behind our gift-giving mission every Christmas where residents not only of our barangay but also of neighboring ones were beneficiaries.
Some say that my wife was lucky to have me for a husband. They’re completely wrong. I’m the lucky one for having her for a wife. If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I would still want to marry her in my next life.