The land is hot and dry this time of the year in the Philippines as the northeastern monsoon wind blows. It was exactly a week before February 11, 1978, when the family’s coconut smokehouse caught on fire in the middle of the night. The farm helpers formed a human chain of water buckets to stop the fire but the water pump could not give enough. There were only a few of them that night because most of the helpers were sent back home to their families in the village.
Half of the smokehouse was already on fire when the yelling of the helpers woke Femelita up. Acting on impulse Femelita grabbed her robe to cover herself. She could not think of her medical condition at the moment. She had to help put the fire out.
The family had waited for 3 months for the coconuts to be ready. Two weeks of picking and hauling hundreds of coconuts to be smoked. Piling them up on the makeshift bamboo floor after they were unhusked and delicately cut in two parts.
She decided her pregnancy was not an excuse to just sit there and wait for this unfortunate event to end. She ran from her room towards the stairs. There were about twenty steps to get to the ground floor of the farmhouse. She could see the fire from the windows. Her heart was pounding like a galloping horse; she was trying to catch her breath. It was extra difficult because her belly is heavy as she is about to deliver her fourth child any day now. Her legs are swollen and it is not easy for her to run. She puts on her slippers and made few steps when she slides off the staircases and landed on her back…
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