Up until I knew better, I had a yaya who thought up answers to everything. Nilda, her name was, and she fancied herself to be the next Nora Aunor. (She was a Noranian of the diehard kind, stopping just a little short of hexing Vilma Santos.) She had ready answers to my endless questions. She also had outrageous views that, alas, I took for bible truths.
And so it was that I believed that “not for hire” meant “not for long distances” [“harayo” is Bicol for “far,” and Nilda insisted that “not for hire” literally meant “dili pwede sa harayo.”]. I also believed that “Bumbays” were scary people who particularly feasted on children that didn’t take naps, and that Coca-Cola was a concoction of soy sauce, water and Superwheel. Naturally, I steered clear of Coke.
But if there’s one childhood myth that I held on to until reality bit, it is this: that nuns and priests were not like us lesser mortals. That they were special. So special, in fact, that they didn't need to eat "real" food: they could live on the communion host alone. They also didn't have to take care of themselves or to look good or even to brush their teeth.
So when, during a kindergarten outing, I saw Sor Sonia eating a sandwich, I was really, really floored! With something close to shock, I realized that Nilda was taking me for a ride all along. Eventually, she ran off with her “Pip,” and probably had a dozen “Maria Leonora Teresas.”
Thoughts of my childhood yaya came back when, at a grocery line, I stood behind a youngish priest. When it was his turn, he looked around, gave me a sheepish grin and piled his purchases. There, on the counter, were six boxes of whitening soap.
So much for Nilda and her myths, huh!