You were always the sweetest boy, the one who proudly proclaimed that all he would ever need and love is his Nanay, his mom. Made even sweeter by the fact that when you said it, you were all of five years old. You were the one without fanfare, the one who pressed a medal into my hand when you came home from school once. It was for a Math contest, and no one at home even knew you joined. Maybe because we share a birthday, that we could always understand each other. That I could always tell what you wanted and provide just exactly what you needed.
I suppose in my head, you would always be that sweet, bright boy of my birthday, with the fine sense of humor and wickedly sharp brain. So that I cannot, for the life of me recognize now, the handsome angry young man sitting across from me at the table. The one who answers with grunts and rolled eyes, the one who proclaims he knows better, and has bigger horizons to forge, the one who thinks that the little dreams his mother has for him have little to do with the man he wants to be.
And for all the wisdom I am supposed to have, at this age, at this stage, I can think of nothing to appease you, I cannot find the words or tactics to get through to you. While I could always read the little boy and the laughing adolescent, all I can tell you now, all I am reduced to, is asking you, in the traditional way, "Kumain ka na?"("Have you eaten?"). It is the way of Filipino mothers, to ask if their children are hungry, and to show their love with food. Or to lovingly prepare dishes, lay out the plates, pour water, each gesture, an act of love.
It is the only way I can tell you how much I keep you in my heart, tell you that no matter what it is you are going through, what troubles you have, I love you, I am with you, I understand you. I will feed you.