By Francisco Arcellana
For the Angeles family, Mr. Angeles'; homecoming from his periodic inspection trips was always an occasion for celebration. But his homecoming--from a trip to the South--was fated to be more memorable than, say, of the others.
He had written from Mariveles: "I have just met a marvelous matweaver--a real artist--and I shall have a surprise for you. I asked him to weave a sleeping-mat for every one of the family. He is using many different colors and for each mat the dominant color is that of our respective birthstones. I am sure that the children will be very pleased. I know you will be. I can hardly wait to show them to you."
Nana Emilia read the letter that morning, and again and again every time she had a chance to leave the kitchen. In the evening when all the children were home from school she asked her oldest son, José, to read the letter at dinner table. The children became very much excited about the mats, and talked about them until late into the night. This she wrote her husband when she labored over a reply to him. For days after that, mats continued to be the chief topic of conversation among the children.
Finally, from Lopez, Mr. Angeles wrote again: "I am taking the Bicol Express tomorrow. I have the mats with me, and they are beautiful. God willing, I shall be home to join you at dinner."
The letter was read aloud during the noon meal. Talk about the mats flared up again like wildfire.
"I like the feel of mats," Antonio, the third child, said. "I like the smell of new mats."
"Oh, but these mats are different," interposed Susanna, the fifth child. "They have our names woven into them, and in our ascribed colors, too."
The children knew what they were talking about: they knew just what a decorative mat was like; it was not anything new or strange in their experience. That was why they were so excited about the matter. They had such a mat in the house, one they seldom used, a mat older than any...