This happened last night: “Mama, I want to sleep. I’m going to school tomorrow.”

Aba, himala! Maagang matutulog dahil may pasok pa daw sya bukas. I was on the verge of texting my father on what to do with my youngest son’s throwing up since lunchtime. Instead, I got the digital thermometer from my pouch and checked my son’s body temperature.

“37^C”—- I calmed myself and checked the internet for signs and symptoms of stomach flu. I gave him a bottle of probiotics and hoped that the symptoms would disappear. Fortunately, he fell asleep a little faster than I expected. Good job to myself!

I remember how I was prone to “usog” when I was a little girl.

“Kung saan-saan nyo dinadala ang bata, ayan, nababati tuloy,” my worried grandmother would tell my mother. Then, they would touch my feet to check if they were cold. If yes, then nausog nga ako.

“Who was the last person who greeted you?” my father would ask.

“Ah, si Tiya Felicing!”my mother would remember.

The three of us would go back to the market to look for Tiya Felicing. Kelangang malawayan daw ako para ako gumaling. Tiya Felicing, in her ever charming smile would apologize to me for causing trouble and then raise my shirt, wet her thumb with a little saliva and then press it lightly against my tummy.

“Gagaling ka na nyan,” Tiya Felicing would say.

At home, I was still dizzy and weak but my parents would assure me that I would feel better “kasi nalawayan na ako.” I would pretend to be okay because that was expected of me because “nalawayan na ako.”

Being prone to “usog” limited my exposure because my parents were afraid that if somebody that they did not know greeted me and made me sick, I would not be cured because “saan naman hahanapin ang nakausog?”

As a teenager and when I was becoming adventurous, they knew that the only way to protect me against “usog” was for me to wear anti-usog bracelet or stones. The stones were sewn on a red cloth and were supposed to be clipped on my clothes for my protection. Believe me, until now, my father reminds me to wear the anti-usog every time I get out of the house!

So why am I telling this story? I realize that aside from parenting style, I am no longer a believer of “usog.” My son probably caught a virus and since viruses are self-limiting, he felt better sooner than I expected. Looking back, I probably had a weak immune system so my body adjusted to new environments and reacted to it that was why I was prone to getting sick before.