My father is a quiet, hard man whose main work for half a century has been to paddle out to sea in a small boat and catch blue marlin, sailfish, and other great and small fish. Even today, at eighty, he is lean and hard-muscled with clear eyes and erect, proud posture.
A few years before I was born, my father became mysteriously ill. For no reason that anyone could understand, he started losing sensation in his legs, and then eventually lost all sensation from his waist down, until he could no longer walk or move his legs at all. He was at home, sick, for nine months and during that time my mom had to do everything, taking care of all the children and providing for the family. She called in a tambalan, a traditional healer, to try and cure him but the tambalan couldn’t do anything.