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LT / Palanca

12:00:00 AM

My friend Reese recently gave me a Palanca. To the unfamiliar, a Palanca is just a handwritten letter. I used to be really fond of writing letters to friends back in school, but since our respective jobs keep us apart now, it's really more practical to just send each other emails and/or messages via text or Viber. If you have been reading this blog, you would know that I'm crazy about writing by hand - I've been keeping journals since I was in grade school.
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But I've been writing letters even way before that. I am the daughter of an overseas Filipino worker: my father was a lineman turned contractor for Saudi Telecom, and because phone calls were crazy expensive then (they are until now, actually), the easiest and cheapest way for me to tell him I loved him was through letters. Occasionally, we'd send him pictures and drawings and even photocopies of our report cards.

Each envelope took a little over a week to reach him, and his responses took about the same amount of time to reach me. Reading his letters were a huge part of my childhood. I actually didn't like my Dad's handwriting - there were parts that I found difficult to understand - but I opened each envelope addressed to me with much gusto. I could only be with him for one month of every year, so writing was our way to keep tabs on one another.

It wasn't until high school, though, that I learned to use the term "Palanca" to refer to letters, and by that time, Dad was already home for good. The letters I wrote, and those I received, were for and from friends. We'd tear off pages from our notebooks to write to one another. This volume of letters written and read tripled as we neared inevitable separation in March 2003.

I haven't received a Palanca in years, so I was really delighted to get one from Reese! Thank you, deary! My heart is full! :)

(Side note one: Palanca also happens to be my favorite street in Legazpi Village, Makati, because my favorite wine bar, Cyrano, and my favorite cocktail bar, The Curator, are there, and my "adopted white father" Peter lives there. Plus my favorite spa, Hagod Spa, is there, too! The Wild Bunch was formed over beers in The Plantation and Balcony Gastropub. I sung here countless times, too!)

(Side note two: When I was in high school, I was asked by my English teacher, Menchi Cruz, to join the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. I submitted an essay, and although I didn't win, it felt great to be the one chosen to represent the school. That must have been the first time I really felt like a writer.)

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