By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca
A friend of mine shared something on his Facebook wall last night. It’s a link to a story he wrote about his dad. Soon after, other friends, including myself, started sharing our own experiences as sons and daughters.
Most of us acknowledged that our parents are human beings too and are bound to make mistakes like we do. We may have been hurt by some of the things our dads and moms did during our growing up years, but we recognize that we have done stuff that caused them pain as well.
Many of my friends and I have already lost our dads or our moms, or both. Some, many years ago; others, just a few months back. But one thing we expressed is how we all love our parents and respect them.
Me? I remember my Tatay as a strict man who can be quick with the belt when my siblings and I made mistakes while we were still kids. When he and our mom had misunderstandings, he would be gone for days, staying in my Lola’s house before coming back with his sense of humor intact. I loved listening to his corny jokes! I also remember him as a person who people go to when they need help. He was generous to a fault and would even lend his last peso to a friend in need.
He was a good granddad to my kids and my nephew. Up until now, 11 years after he passed away, our relatives and people in our town still talk about him with fondness. I also don’t think anybody has yet broken his record for having the longest line of mourners during the long walk to the cemetery when we brought him to his resting place.
When I get asked about the most precious memories I have of my Tatay, I’ll always recall how he would take my youngest son, barely a year old at the time, every morning for a walk around the town while he chitchats with his many friends. The two of them were a common sight in the area which seems to be still engraved in peoples’ memories. It is gratifying that whenever we visit my mom in Laguna, neighbors and friends would look at Daniel and exclaim how big he has grown from that little baby that my Tatay used to bring everywhere. It always gladdens my heart to hear that.
Nobody is perfect and it will serve us well to look beyond a person’s imperfections to appreciate the goodness within. I’ve long since forgiven and forgotten whatever shortcomings my dad had. What I want to remain are the happy memories he left behind.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
By Julie Javellana-Santos
Two weeks ago, my brothers, sisters and I threw a big bash for my mother’s 75th birthday. It was not a surprise party since we took turns trying to convince her to come to the Philippines for the party with her American husband. Nevertheless, she was surprised, and so was her husband.
Talk about the party actually began in 2010 when my mom came to the Philippines for her annual Christmas vacation. “Why not have a 75th birthday party in September?” we asked her, pointing out that the fare was half what they usually cost at Christmastime.
One of my sisters already said she would spend for my mom’s fare. Still, it took some time for her to agree — only after my other sister in Singapore said she would fork out the fare of our new stepfather.
We prepared a buffet party for her complete with two lechons (roasted pigs) and several birthday cakes. Drinks were overflowing and the atmosphere was not dampened even by the threat of a typhoon.
There were even dance instructors (my mother’s request!) to help my mom and her guests boogie the night away. Her grandchildren also prepared an enjoyable song number for their lola, complete with specially mixed minus one music.
To cap it all, we helped my brother put together a special audio-visual presentation, complete with pictures of her before she was married and bloopers!
For several Sundays we got together to take videos for the AVP and so that the kids could practice. The party was not a surprise, but this was!
I hope that when I am 75 (or around that age anyway), my daughters will treat me the same way we did my mom. She was so touched with the attention we showered on her, throwing her a themed party and all. But surprisingly, her American husband was even more touched.
In America, when kids grow up they move out of the house and seldom visit their parents at all. Most actually send their parents to an old folks’ home. My mom met her new husband when she was vacationing in Florida ten years after my father died. He has several children who are all married and have their own families, whom he never sees.
Little wonder he was amazed that we get together a lot, and that my sisters even spent for his and my mom’s airline tickets. That’s something quite rare, almost unheard of, in America.
Unlike most people, I do not dread growing old. Children follow the example set by their parents, and if the party is any indication, my children will treasure me as much as we brothers and sisters do my mother.
By Jing Lejano
For several Saturdays now, I’ve found myself by my lonesome at home. Actually, I have not been so lonely for my granddaughter S has kept me good company. We’ve been playing with her doll house, eating ice cream, and watching cartoon movies.
As for my own kids, well, they’re off with their own lives. My two kids in college, E and F, have classes on Saturdays. My second son S, who’s in high school, has Citizen’s Army Training on Saturday mornings. However, he only comes home around dinner time as he usually spends the afternoons with his friends. My youngest son K also has stuff to do on Saturdays. He’s either off to a classmate’s house finishing a project or at the mall hanging out with his friends.
This is new territory for me. My kids and I usually spend Saturdays at home. Well, at least some of them or most of them, but never not all of them. We usually get up late in the morning and I’ll cook something nice for lunch. This would be followed by marathon sessions in front of the tube, watching the latest batch of movies.
My kids and I, we’re movie freaks. The boys and I, we love action and sci-fi adventures, usually those involving some journey to a galaxy far away. My daughter E loves gory horror movies, usually those involving somebody getting hacked to a million pieces. Sometimes, I can get them to watch cheesy romantic comedies, but not too often. We would watch and we would eat, and every so often, somebody would make a joke or two. Of course, we’re not always together. On some Saturdays, each of us would be occupied with our own projects, but we’d still all be home.
I suppose I am at the beginning of what’s popularly called the empty nest syndrome. You have these wonderful babies, bring them up into well-behaved children, and hopefully raise them into individuals with passion and purpose.
Raising these four kids has been one hell of an adventure filled with comedy, drama, romance, and yes, even action—the very same things that we used to enjoy on the tube every Saturday. Looking at them, I could only hope that I did right by them. I could only hope that I was able to teach them something about living and loving as they go off into their own adventures.
By Mari-An Santos
My maternal grandmother is 96 years old. She has led a very full life and is actually still very strong. More importantly, she is also very lucid.
She was a teacher all her life. At 19, she started teaching at a schoolhouse in a small town in Mindanao. Her job had her traveling for long distances to get to work every day to remote locations. She eventually became a public school principal and that’s how she met my grandfather, who was a Schools Division Supervisor.
She speaks and writes in Visayan, Chavacano, Spanish, English, and Tagalog. Even now, she’s a voracious reader. Hearing her recount details of her exciting life is like watching an exciting movie.
She tells of how some of her first pupils were older than she. Being farmers’ sons, they could not yet read or write very well even as teenagers. Then, they would also need to help their parents with soil preparation, planting, and eventually, harvesting the fields.
She narrates how she had to come to Manila to pursue higher education, traveling all the way from southern Philippines to the nation’s capital. It was a time so far removed from all the present-day conveniences of rapid travel and automobiles.
She even recounts how she aimed the barrel of a shotgun at my late grandfather one night when she had had enough and gave him an ultimatum: stop his philandering ways or say goodbye. He chose the former. He still survived years beyond that and saw his daughters grow up. But he passed away due to a heart attack not long after he retired from government service.
When I was a child and my grandmother would visit us from the province, she would busy herself with either making rosaries or translating the Bible into her native Chavacano. During breaks in her “work” she would go into the kitchen and make jams or cook snacks like empanada.
Later on, she would take on a project to compile a family tree, tracing from her roots of Spanish migrants to the present generation—with cousins dotting the globe. This is her life’s work that she has, thus far, not seen come into fruition. She has asked the help of some other relatives, but to date, the task is not yet completed.
I used to notice her, poring over her big manila papers, drawing and writing to complete the project. When I approached her to “mano”, she would look up and smile long enough to say “God bless you”, before resuming her work. I wondered at her perseverance then.
She recently had a minor accident in the bathroom. Because she had a slight fracture, she is now confined to a wheelchair. She finds it difficult to feed herself and does not talk much.
Somehow, this sudden change in her attitude has also changed us who are around her. Now, I have decided to take up where she has left off to complete even just a fraction of the family tree project she loved so much. I only hope that I can competently pick up from where she left off, and at last, present her with a project fulfilled just as she had envisioned.
By Bubbles Salvador
My son has quite an unusual play group. When I’m working, his 65-year-old Lola looks after him. Sometimes, Luis spends an hour or two next door with his 19-year-old cousin. He also likes playing photographer to his 91-year-old great-grandmother, whom he calls Sweetheart.
How these lolas manage to care for such an active toddler during the day is beyond me. But Luis is such an Energizer bunny – I bet he gives his lolas all the energy they need.
Anyone who’s ever known a grandmother will agree with me: It is a blessing to be around them. Apart from Sweetheart, Luis has both lolas from my husband’s side and mine. He also has a very doting Lolo who often comes to see him in the morning – but I’ll save that for a different day.
I remember my own lolas – Viola and Nene, who both lived past 90. From Viola, who was an Olympic athlete and a school principal, I learned that women can succeed both at work and at home. Nene, on the other hand, was a farmer’s wife whose life taught me the value of hard work.
Luis may not realize it now but his grandmothers are teaching him life lessons even without them knowing it. Respect and compassion – these are values that we can teach only by doing. No school can teach that as effectively as when kids learn it at home.
So while my son may just be having fun play dates with his grandmothers, he is also learning that Sweetheart needs help when going down the stairs, that my mom’s wheel chair needs to be pushed by someone else, and that his Lola could use some help putting away his toys after playing.
The part where he makes his lolas super happy by showing off his crazy antics? It’s just a happy bonus.