Nerisa Guevara’s Poetics


Walking Through Time and Space in His Shoes:

The Marikina Shoe Industry, a Re-membering

tangent |ˈtanjənt|

noun

1 a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point.

• figurative a completely different line of thought or action : she went off on a tangent about how she and her husband had driven past a department store window.

2 Mathematics the trigonometric function that is equal to the ratio of the sides (other than the hypotenuse) opposite and adjacent to an angle in a right triangle.

adjective

(of a line or plane) touching, but not intersecting, a curve or curved surface.

DERIVATIVES

tangency |-jənsē| noun

ORIGIN late 16th cent. ( in sense 2 and as an adjective): from Latin tangent- ‘touching,’ from the verb tangere.

(Oxford Dictionary)

My entry point is this act of holding a pair of my father’s shoes.  The tan smell of leather against my chest.  The tips of my father’s shoes against my chin.  The passing of shoes to… (blind spot in memory).  This is how the search begins.

I start from the last painful image of my father’s death, take that and work my way back to many other painful images that make up not only my history, but also the history of my family and maybe ultimately a personal history of the city that is Marikina.

If I find my father I shall know my city.  If I find my city, I shall know my country.

“Guevara means galleon.  I knew your father. He was a doctor. Ang yaman ninyo.”  Dr. Perez of Perez Optical still stands behind the glass cases unchanged since my college years.  The dust is just as thick as the vintage glass frames on sale. How he can sit there, his store jutting out like an appendix barely holding its seams together beneath the Gateway Complex, I do not know.  These I will write about and many other stories yet.

These are a group of vignettes, tangents.  They might not amount to the long Story.  But these are my stories.

I will go around things, barely touching, barely saying.  I will still set my pen on a point, points, but I will write away from the center. As a lyric poet, I write the moment in front of me. Now as an apprenticing non-fiction writer, I am easing myself into the act of seeing a larger vista, and write things into a larger frame.  I am now trying to write the action, the ending, the death, and the resurrection.

But always, I will write as traveler, a reveler, a lover of tangents.  I believe that everything is connected. The Virgin Mary, that chipped Lady of Lourdes statue that used to be on the wooden stairs of my Nanay’s Cubao apartment is now beside the Lady of Manaoag in my Uncle Totoy’s house. This is also the same Virgin that originally stood in the Grotto of my father’s ancestral house in Parang when they co-owned Alex Shoes, the largest shoe factory in Marikina in The Good Old days. I will make use of profile of people and places.  The narrative strand is a journey/ story from Espana to BalikBalik to Baguio to Marikina.

I believe that questioning the people on the periphery will lead me to a truer understanding of the center.  It is easy to go straight to the top:  The Shoe Museum, The Bahay na Bato, The Mayor of Marikina.  But I am not after the contrived tour.  I am waiting.

I am waiting for my father’s ghost to lead me into the City.

I am waiting for Marikit to look up from the river and lead me into the City.

I am waiting for Mang Ely the Shoe Repair man to lead me into the City.

I am waiting for Mrs. Aida Chen to lead me into the City.

I am waiting for James Yango and many others to lead me into the City.

And just like in my poetry, I am waiting “for the one word that will lead me to the one line that will bring me back home”

That word now is Father.

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