By  Mari-An Santos


After my last post, my parents asked why I did not mention “the swimming classes.” In our house, this is one of the most enduring stories. I cringe every time my parents recount it with such gusto and glee.

The summer when I was 8 or 9 years old, my parents enrolled me in swimming lessons at the YWCA in Manila. My parents, like most, wanted to keep me busy with extracurricular activities during summer vacation. Succeeding summers saw me taking ballet, piano, and jazz dance classes.

On this particular vacation, my parents decided that I had to learn how to swim. If you read my previous post, you know that I was not a confident child. Putting on a swimsuit was enough to freak me out, and going out in public where people would actually see me?! That was out of the question. I’m sure I cried and wailed over this–hemming and hawing cannot even begin to describe it. Wailing and pleading and begging were probably involved.

Sure, my parents didn’t know how to swim, but they made this an argument “for,” whereas I was satisfied that if it was good enough for my parents to go this long without learning, then it was good enough for me. No dice. As a child in this debate, the “government” side won.

A few weeks in, as we were learning to breathe underwater, I swallowed a large amount of water and started wailing: “Mamamatay na ‘ko! Mamamatay na ‘ko!” (I am going to die! I am going to die!) I wanted to quit. I never wanted to get into the water again. The next day, I pleaded with my parents, but they told me I should not give up and had to finish the lessons. And so, I obediently went.

Obviously, I’m still alive. When we were in senior year of high school, I was reunited with the YWCA pool as we took our diving P. E. class there. I aced that class.

Today I swim every chance I get. And not just in the swimming pool either. I’ve done Boracay, Panglao, El Nido, Siargao, Bauang, Pagudpud, Currimao, Mactan, Dumaguete, Puerto Galera, to name a few. Of course, I have swallowed my fair share of water and I’ve smashed against some rocks. But I’m still swimming with my own two feet.