Within four years, Mama and Papa had all their three children. (Mama always recounts that fact with a "Can you imagine me?" tone.) They lived in a tiny apartment at 52-C Jesus Street (I was made to memorize that!) so it was with a stroke of good fortune that they won a lottery for the opportunity to avail of low-cost housing in a new development in Marikina.
The concrete block fence around the 300-square meter lot wasn't built yet. The house had cement floors. The grills on the windows of glass jalousies weren't installed. But together with the other 499 lucky winners, they were homeowners. And these neighbors became life-long friends.
In September 1972, Papa took his first business trip to Europe, and that was the first time Mama and Papa were separated for more than a day after getting married. Mama was faced with caring for three kids under the age of seven, who all wanted the bed space vacated by Papa. (Yes, we took turns: two nights per kid.)
If that wasn't hard enough, the country was placed under Martial Law (on their eighth wedding anniversary), while Papa was still away, bringing with it the eerie quiet of uncertainty and no way for Papa to call home. No flights to the country were permitted and he was stranded in Hongkong.
But the story ends well enough, at least for them, if not for the country. And Papa made more trips; Mama endured more days away from him; and the kids learned to share.