Chief Dionisio

Don’t force familiarity, different settings, first impressions, lessons stem from simple questions. Where did you grow? Living on the land staying grounded laying low. How did you withstand the elements, how did you survive? After the bagyo and lahar I learned to flex and not to fight. Why do you who cannot fly still shoot towards the sky? My roots run deep so that we can all bask in the light. Who are we, what do you mean, aren’t you alone? No I am surrounded by a barangay and we called you home.

Dionisio Esteban is a proud veteran, a patriarch, and my grandpa. In late November, a month after my 24th birthday, I went on my first trip to the motherland and met him for the very first time. The time we shared was unique because, it wasn’t a heartfelt reunion but more of a calculated chess match. After a feeling out process his personality began to shine, showcasing his balance of sincerity and levity. Neither of us felt uncomfortable with silence, letting the conversation and stories flow naturally. I felt at ease with him, with nothing to hide and nothing to prove.

Kawayan, bagyo, and barangay mean bamboo, storm, and neighborhood respectively in Tagalog. Lahar is a slurry of volcanic residue (ash, mud, and fragments) that spills down a volcano’s slope. My intention with this Q and A format was to give off the uneasiness of a feeling out process. However my overall goal was to portray how bamboo’s qualities of resilience and strength also emanate from grandfather. The qualities they share include being deeply rooted (earth/family), the ability to flex (fiber/muscle), and growth through togetherness (shoots/community) Although my grandfather has many more characteristics that bamboo cannot personify.

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