Sunday, August 21, 2011


My Grandma's Kaohao

Not too long ago, many homes had a family chest - a kaohao.  My grandma's was store-bought after the war.  Before the war, most kaohao were locally made by carpenters.  Those who could afford it got theirs from Manila, where Chinese-made chests were sold.  One thing one looked for, if one could afford it, was to get kaohao made of scented wood, so that the fragrance of the wood could get on what you put inside the kaohao.

The purpose of the kaohao was to safeguard things you didn't want damaged by exposure to the elements.  Some things would be :
  • magågon nobia (bride's gown)
  • påppet tåno' (documents proving land ownership)
  • alåhas (special jewelry you wouldn't ordinarily use)
  • rekuetdo (family heirlooms)
  • expensive fabric to be made into clothing for some future occasion
My auntie Ana showed me once one of her special kaohao.  Inside were the clothes she sewed for her husband Uncle Ben during the war.  She showed them to me in the early 1980s, forty years after the war.  The clothes were fragile and falling apart.  My biggest regret - after she passed, I did not go looking for the kaohao and to this day I don't know what happened to it and its contents.

From a song :

Nene asta på'go / i prenda-mo nu guåho (Darling up to now / your gift to me)
gagaige ha' / gi fondon kaohao-ho. (still remains / at the bottom of my kaohao).

Yan i litratu-ta na dos / ni hu pega gi liga (And the photo of the two of us / which I put on the wall)
para hu atan nai nene / anai suspiros yo' (for me to look at darling / whenever I sigh)

kulan mohon magåhet nene / na gaige hao gi fi'on-ho (it's as if darling / you truly are next to me)
sa' hu totoktok maolek alunan-ho (because I really hug my pillow).

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