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Posts tagged ‘family’

A Tale of Two’s: Che’s Wedding Piece (Circa 2012)

IMG_6115There are two more weddings in the family coming up in the next few weeks. And as always, it will be a time for relatives to show up and welcome the new members into the fold. Besides the two grooms, I suspect my own “instant” family would be scrutinized as well.
My “new” two year old girl is currently the light of my life. Each morning she greets me with a thunderous (yes, she has a booming voice at her age) “hi!” and a tiring day at the office can always be wiped away with just a welcoming hug from her at the end of the day. I now realize, a kid in the house is always crazy, but pleasantly fun.
It wasn’t too long ago when my Dad too enjoyed the pleasure of a child in the house long after all of us kids were already of school age. During a Holy Week vacation in Ilocos, we chanced upon Mother Sandra and asked her to join the household once again. I went biking to Zone 2 (pronounced as “Son-to” in Bantay) with my grandfather to find Mother Sandra and lo and behold, there she was with her own mini-me…a two-feet high miniature Sandra. I don’t know what they were arguing about, but the mother and daughter were having a tug-of-war scene appropriately near the family sow’s muddy pen. This prelude was evident of the strong-willed personalities of both mother and daughter that would characterize their relationship through the years.
Ironically, this personality would serve Sheryl or “Cheche” as we fondly called her, quite well. This early independence allowed her to play alone, or with other children, even as Mother Sandra was busy with household chores and couldn’t watch over her. If she got into a fight with other kids, we would know, because she would come rushing home without a word. Yes, we never fought any of her fights for her because she could certainly take care of herself even at 2 or 3 years old. We would only find out the next day how bad it was when an angry aunt would come over to our house complaining that Che made a much older 7- year old cousin cry the previous day.
Yes, she would occasionally get herself in trouble but she always knew how to get out of them. Once, she broke my Dad’s ashtray in his office. Mother Sandra distinctly heard a crash and something breaking, but when she got to my Dad’s office, there was nothing on the floor…just Che standing there suspiciously. When asked what happened, little Cheche refused to admit to anything. Mother Sandra asked her where the broken pieces were and Che’s classic reply was, “Problema ko na yun..”
At home, the closest to her age was Gayle who was at least 6 years older. You would think Gayle would be the bad influence on her, but no…they were “partners-in-crime”. They both had a penchant for those dried pusit (squid) in small packs, grilled streetfood like “isaw” (chicken intestines) and “adidas” (chicken feet), and that iced delicacy, “iskrambol” (flavored ice shavings) although they were prohibited from eating those things. So they would sneak out of our side gate instead of the front where Mother Sandra could catch them. They would hug the fence-wall, sliding stealthily like spies and run to the neighbourhood sari-sari store to buy their favourite snacks. Together they stand, and together they fall so to speak…and so these two finally ended their “reign of terror” when they both fell victim to due “consequences” of eating dirty streetfood. Mr. Combantrin was the only solution and it had Cheche spouting her undying love for her mother in the toilet because she thought she was at the point of death.
As a student, Che was also unusual. She never had to be coaxed into going to school everyday, or doing her homework. She would display that same independence unless she needed help with a drawing (she would come to me) or with her math (she would go to Giselle). With Mother already in Rome, Mama was her official guardian and Che never gave her reason to go to Stella Maris to have a special meeting with the principal or the guidance counsellor. Even in high school, she was never the problematic teen. Once Mama was required to attend a school event and she nonchantly went, thinking it was like any other activity. She got the surprise of her life when during a song number there was a soloist, and it was Che! Gayle was the only one with the courage to try out for the Glee Club before, so like any other little sister, Che followed suit. But of course, she was always capable of going beyond whatever we accomplished like any other younger sibling.
And so it was, when it was time for her to apply for university. The family’s deepest frustration of not having a dentist in the clan was thrust upon her even as she hoped to follow our footsteps in going to UP. But it was not in her cards to become one of our sorority sisters, because her destiny lay in UE, a well-known school for dentistry. There, she applied herself to her studies the same way she always did. Experiencing failing marks for the first time, she did what was necessary and took the make-up summer classes. Maybe she always thought of Mother Sandra in Rome, working very hard for her education that kept her on the right path. She always put her studies as her priority even at the most unusual times.
Once, there was a big fire that engulfed the squatters area near our house. The flames got so big, our home was also at risk of being burned down as well. We had to evacuate like the rest of the people, moving the cars, taking our valuables with us. But for Cheche at that time, her books and laboratory manuals were her “valuables”. And in the heat of the moment, things got dropped on the ground as we all rushed out and scrambled for safety. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the fire did not reach our house. When we were asked if there were any losses or damage to property, Che was hilariously the only victim because her books fell in the water from the firemen’s hoses.
By the time Che asked to live away from home, we were confident enough she could be left alone as an adult already. She would come by for her clothes, stay the weekend but always went back to her dorm in time for her classes. When she was reviewing for her dentistry board exams, we hardly worried about her and only occasionally asked if she had done the rounds of the classic pilgrimage sites like Our Lady of Manaoag, St. Jude, Sta. Clara and Baclaran. She never lost confidence and probably never even considered failing. And even if she did, she simply shrugged her shoulders and promised herself she’d try again. That was how strong and resilient she could be.
By the time she was a bonafide dentist, employed at an established dental clinic in Binondo, she never stopped being hardworking. She put up her own dental clinic with a few of her old classmates and even started various endeavours like an Ready-to-Wear (RTW) clothes and a food cart business. One thing Che was never lacking is courage and a risk-taking demeanour that always allows her to land on her feet. For Che, there are no mistakes or failures because she carefully assesses her risk exposure and if there are any losses on her part, she would make sure she didn’t do too badly.
I believe Che is the same with her lovelife. She always knew what she wanted and that was non-negotiable. The real challenge was finding a guy who would be confident enough to handle her strong-will and independence. Truly lucky is the man who would manage to “tame” her because she could be a real “partner for life”, a source of strength, a sanctuary from all of Life’s hustle and bustle. She can be a true lover and carer – someone who can feed you the tastiest dishes and yet scold you for getting sick and not taking better care of yourself.
Yes, Cheche can be a real challenge, but I assure you she would be really worth it. So good luck to you Elmer and may your years together be truly blessed.

Turning of the Tide: Reflections on my nephew, Tudoy

IMG_4593This 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!

my 2011: revisited

Looking back at my year, I realized it was still a pretty good one..there were highs and lows, hits and misses, but I’m still grateful for the year that was…

Thumbs Up

1. my trips and travels – food trips in Cebu, nature-tripping in Tublay, Bolinao and Camiguin, the culture and history of Ilocos, Albay and Iloilo

2. approved funding proposals for continued advocacy work

3. finding time to write and get creative

4. paying off loans and debts

5. successful lectures/trainings/fora as opportunities for sharing my knowledge

6. various media exposures and recognition as a smalltime “celebrity”

7. staying in a relationship after realizing that it really takes work and commitment

Thumbs Down

1. my frequent asthma and hypertension attacks reminding me that this body is getting old

2. not enough time for bonding time w/ family and loved ones

3. seeming professional stagnation/career rut

4. lost friendships to departures, transfers or fights

And I have a feeling 2012 can get even better…:)

When Boys Become Husbands and Fathers

My father was born to a generation when having males in the family was given such a premium. Of 10 siblings, he had merely 3 sisters and the rest were brothers. Surely, it made my grandfather proud to have so many sons to carry his name. And when it was my Dad’s turn, he fretted that he can only rely on Manong Butch’s line to continue his surname. But Tudoy took a long time coming. Poor Manong Butch was already under so much pressure and people were speculating about his teenage-onset of mumps. My Dad was getting impatient for a grandson, although Angel, the first grandchild courtesy of Ate Annette, was already around. One day, I replied to my Dad’s chagrin, “so what’s the problem..I’ll just have a kid out-of-wedlock so he can carry your last name.” That shut him up for a time.

Finally, Tudoy came along, followed by the twins, Michael and Mark, c/o Ate Marie. Daddy didn’t mind trekking to Pasig back when it was a no man’s land, or flying to faraway San Carlos City in Negros if only to see his grandsons. Be careful what you wish for they say, and when Roy followed a few years later, and then Marben came along, and finally Arneil arrived…Daddy finally had a dream come true. Manong Butch came through for him after all!

Sadly,our father didn’t see Gayle’s own contribution to the bunch. He was several years in the ground already when Troy and Tristan came along. But oh, I can imagine what delight it would have been for him to see his grandsons, spoiling them with toy guns, toy cars or whatever games he thinks “appropriate” for boys albeit “un-politically correct” nowadays.

Fortunately, this generation of young boys grew up in an environment “dominated” by women. There were just simply too many females in the family, you see. Besides the grandma and the mom, they were around too many Titas and aunts, yayas and maids, cousins and playmates who were girls. So I do hope they learned a thing or two about dealing with females.

Recently, my nephew Tudoy married his long-time GF, Hani, while Michael became a new father to a baby boy. From what I know, both Tudoy and Michael are comfortable in the kitchen. Ate Rhoda even has a story of Tudoy knowing how to sew back a button on her blouse. But if the women in the family had their way, our ideas about what a good husband and father is, would be our greatest legacy to these boys. Remember that spouses or life- partners are to be loved and respected always, never to be hit or taken for granted; while children are to be loved and cared for to the point of much self-sacrifice; providing for their needs is of utmost importance, so strive to give them the best. Even if boys-will-be-boys, and you will have your fun and crazy days, a time will come when you need to grow up and be the men you were reared to be – husbands and fathers we could be proud of.

Indeed, behind every man is a woman who helped him become who he is. And if he turns out to be a rotten scoundrel of a man, well…that could be some woman’s fault too – probably his own mother! 😉

Letter to A Graduate (for my nephews and niece)

This summer, our family boasts of three new graduates  covering the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. My siblings, regular, hardworking people, are very proud indeed. Like all parents, the tradition of sending your kids to school to ensure them a bright future is still considered one of life’s greatest accomplishments. And for all of us who have labored in school, graduation is more than just a culmination of all your hard work, it is a great milestone in life.

For my nephew graduating from elementary, I always told you that you should learn all the basics in science, math, history and languages already, because these details won’t change and will keep haunting you until college. Since there’s no escaping it, better learn them all now. Who knows, these information may prove useful later on. One thing for sure, sometimes a little knowledge is perfect for impressing girls.

And for having “survived” elementary when most kids are most cruel, congratulations for rising above the bullying of both teachers and classmates. At this point, you must have realized your own innate worth and goodness. Whatever your peers called you or how your teachers labelled you, the only opinion about yourself that really matters is yours. So never lose faith in yourself.

An important lesson you may have learned from all the bullying is that now you know how it feels, and the memory of that pain and torment will remind you later on in life that it’s never nice to oppress or pick on the down-trodden. The experience may have taught you about your humanity, so I never begrudged you that one time you got yourself into a fight because you defended yourself. May you show the same zeal and righteousness as you fight for the rights of others when you get older.

To my nephew graduating  high school, who was so pressured about getting into the “right” university. Know that elder siblings’ “successes” will always torment you, especially if they set such high standards. Your Dad did that to all of us six other children who followed. Only four of us managed to get into the State University as well, but no one was able to match his NSDB (now known as NSTA) scholarship. Nevertheless, the lesson is this – always be your own person. Soon you will realize that you shall follow your own Path, and your accomplishments and your failures will be your own. Things always turn out as they should in the end, and your life is what you make of it.

And to my niece in college who is so torn about choosing the best job offer.  Money is always good since a fair compensation is a measure of the hard work required of you. But be reminded that sometimes wealth is not the answer to everything. Many successful people measured their accomplishments by how much they earned; yet in the end, they still searched for that sense of fulfilment. So consider what would really make you happy too, because a meaningful job that contributes to society is never a bad deal. Always think of a job as more than just a source of income, and you will be on the right track.

To a graduate, graduation is about moving on to the next stage in your life. Relish this moment, take time to look back at what you have accomplished. It will to give you the courage to face what comes next. This is a rite of passage, and you have proven yourself worthy.