This month, some of us in my family will be celebrating our respective birthdays. But the clan’s milestones are not limited to celebrations of our natal days. There is a wedding in the family that Ate Marie once again has found a reason to make her annual visit to Manila. Tudoy, my oldest nephew, is getting married to his girlfriend, Hani this May 2010.
Unlike Gayle, (and probably the rest of the Titas, including ninang Edlyn) I didn’t get a chance to get emotional during the wedding proper. I was too busy being hot and uncomfortable in my new Barong, or was too caught up taking photos with Giselle’s newest high-tech camera. But going home after dropping off Ate Annette and her family last night, the long drive to Fairview made me realize the swift passing of the days.
Not long ago, Lolo Teofing’s pride and joy was his first grandson, Tudoy – the promised bearer of his great Leonin surname. For almost three years, Manong Butch himself was under so much pressure to produce the necessary “heir”. After all, he was Daddy’s only chance at propagating his lineage. Tudoy’s arrival brought great happiness, and relief, to both Grandfathers. The result, there would be a perpetual “tug-of-war” on who gets to spend quality time with the favorite grandson.
It had Daddy driving (and almost getting lost) to far-off Pasig, back when it wasn’t as densely populated as it is now. Later, Tudoy would be brought to Kamias with his yaya Salve to spend some days with us. Around this time, Manong Butch was also being sent to Vienna, Austria and Tennessee, USA to undergo some long-term training. There was even a time that both parents were away with Ate Rhoda visiting Manong Butch in the USA, and Tudoy was shuttled between his grandparents.
Yaya Salve was quite handy being around during the early years, but Tudoy wasn’t particularly difficult to care for anyway. Even when he broke both forearms playing on the monkeybars at the playground, and both arms were in casts, he wasn’t difficult to bathe or dress. Came the day when he didn’t need to have a yaya, his Titas and the platoon of maids at Kamias were enough to watch over him. But even then, he would just play with Che and the rest of the kids at the compound, tinker with some high-tech stuff and figure out our Japanese telephone with an answering service function, or simply watch TV when told to stay indoors, and lay quietly to sleep on his designated mattress in the room Giselle and I shared with him come bedtime.
On summers when the maids would be away on their respective vacations, the Titas would be left with the household chores. As our resident ward, Tudoy would also share in the duties. He would sometimes help me clean the house and feed our 12 dogs. He would have his own apron to wear in the kitchen, and help prepare the family meals. Yes, believe or not, even at a young age, Tudoy was comfortable, and safe, in the kitchen. Never did he hurt his finger cutting up vegetables. He would help stir the casserole in the pan while standing on a beer or softdrink case, and never would he have an accident. Once, after the few vacation times spent with us, he quipped, “Tita Germaine, I always learn something new around you”.
Tudoy’s growing up years was also a chronicle of our lives. He was there when Albert, Gayle’s then persistent suitor, got caught in a rainstorm while visiting Kamias. Gayle was frying some tocino for dinner when a blackout occurred. Under the light of a few candles, Gayle couldn’t see that the meat was getting overcooked. Later, as we ate the burnt tocino, Tudoy commented insightfully about Albert, “Tita Gayle, mahal ka nga talaga niya…kinakain yung tocinong niluto mo e, …kahit sunog.”
If you are also wondering where Tudoy’s presence of mind during the Ondoy floods came from, it was also because of his exposure to the annual flooding in Kamias every rainy season. And of his computer gaming skills, heck…he introduced us to the first generation computer games like “Pacman”, “Family Feud” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” back when computer monitors were green and data were stored in 5.25 floppy disks!
I would say, Gayle had every right to get teary-eyed at the ceremony and reception. She and Tudoy had a lot of bonding time after school when they were young since their buildings were quite near each other in UP Diliman – Gayle at the College of Home Economics and Tudoy at the UP Integrated School. Sometimes, they would even pick me up at the College of Law before going home to Kamias.
All these would pass too quickly, as Tudoy got accepted to Philippine Science High School and we would see less and less of him. Though once he was in college already, I would occasionally come across him at the Faculty Center or AS while I am on my way to my own MA class.
Soon after his graduation, with his new job at Shell in Batangas, the whole family came for a visit one Halloween weekend. It was just a day trip after all, but we all had a glimpse of Tudoy’s new life and his prospectively bright future.
Hani’s introduction to the rest of the family a few years later, only signaled yet another phase in Tudoy’s young life. As Hani’s now legendary waistline slowly became a perennial standard of measurement for the Titas, it was evident to us that Hani was here to stay.
Tudoy’s vows to Hani at the Church, and Roy’s very engaging toast as the Best Man at the reception, would make Lolo Teofing very proud of his grandsons had he lived to see this day.
Congratulations to the newly-weds, Tudoy and Hani! Long Live Teofilo’s Tribe!