I’ve seen my mother usher in complete strangers into the four corners of our home. The soda she offers them knows no ethnicity, nor visiting intentions. The good china always found themselves entertaining new faces, but seldom their owners. Hospitality runs in the pipes intertwined below our living room floor: the same way it flourishes in my mother’s, and in every Filipino’s veins, including mine.
As an introvert, I’ve always found it tense when friends gather in my house. I never know what to do, what to serve them. Instead of serving food and beverages inside a silver cloche, I choose to usher them into and welcome them into the fridge and pantry. What’s ours is yours, I say, as the leftovers fill the spaces of their stomachs. This is my own awkward, trying-to-get-by hospitality. Similar to myself, it struggles to find its own identity amidst a sea of those who have come before it.
However, this idea of hospitality not only haunts the spaces in between our walls. It has found a home within my body, tufting its pillows on a bed in the guest room of my ribcage. In all these years of finding my identity, hospitality has seen visitors come and go: those that stay only to inflict pain, and those who attempt to fill up the potholes in the foundations of my beliefs. There are those who distort my body to fit it into a mold defined by rules unwritten in society; there have been too many who have unhinged my jaw and spoken in place of me.
The spaces I occupy are those I’ve left open for conquerors to claim. Its walls are etched with the scars of colonialism, like a guestbook left open at the hotel lobby. I realize that it was never mine to dwell in. Hospitality flips through my own pages and etches the names of those I welcomed, and those I failed to.
Tuloy kayo… Patuloy kayo… Patuloy kayong pumapasok sa aking isipan.
And I let you.
Angela Ciceron is a 2nd year student at the University of Manitoba, pursuing a degree in Global Political Economy. Prior to joining the editorial team of Sa Pagitan, she served as editor-in-chief of her junior highschool publication. She also wrote and photographed for OMundial, a local Portueguese newspaper. Today, she writes and edits for The Arts Tribune, an undergraduate literary anthology for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba. At age 12, Angela started writing short fiction and found great joy from it. Today, she wanders the Canadian prairies with the same zeal and inspiration and uses it to fuel her poetry and songwriting.