smallribbonMom, I remember …

…how you loved Rogelio Dela Rosa and Carmen Rosales.

…that you were a fashionista way back in college — being the first-born among a brood of 8, you had the privilege of always having new things, and never had to wear hand-me-downs.

…how you liked wearing heels to help add precious inches to your 5’1” height.

…that you used to design and sew dresses by hand, including beautiful beaded wedding gowns, and had clients like veteran actress, Boots Anson-Roa.

…that you adored two of the most handsome (yet closeted gay) leading men of the Golden Era of Hollywood: Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson.

… that you baked macaroon cupcakes, chiffon cakes, and apple cinnamon pies.

… that when you were a young college student in UP, renowned artist and Amorsolo’s contemporary, Ireneo Miranda (the “Dean of Filipino Cartooning”), took a liking for you (*ahem* since you apparently looked like his wife) and often invited you to model for his portraiture classes.

… that you valued the importance of reading and it was because your decision to invest in books like the Dr. Suess series and Companion Library Book Digests made a lifelong reader out of me.

… that you liked joining spelling bees in high school; and your tips on how to spell (close your eyes and ‘see’ the word; spell by syllables not by letters) were quite helpful even up to now when I teach MY students to spell.

… that everyone said the same things about you… that you were the favorite niece, the favorite cousin, the favorite daughter-in-law, the favorite aunt… I of course didn’t bother to ask why. We all knew why.

… that I used to watch Nora Daza‘s cooking shows with you every Sunday morning; I found it fascinating how you would be ready with your little notebook and pen, how you would jot down the ingredients but not the directions (which you mentally noted instead)…

… how I didn’t heed your suggestions on suitable career paths for me, but now I see. Moms are always right all along.

… the shape and softness of your hands and fingers as I held them in mine, and the contours of your face since I often caressed them when I was little.

… that you were not gifted with robust health even when you were young — reminding me to not take for granted my own health – to eat healthy, to exercise more, to sleep early.

… that we had you for a such a short time — reminding me not to take for granted my own existence, my own dreams, my own time, and the people around me – to live and appreciate life fully, and to love dearly.

… that you never had the chance to enjoy your grandchildren, but if you were still here, I’m sure they would have loved you to bits because I bet you would have made an awesome grandma.


Love you, Ma, and Happy Birthday!


Undas is a major holiday that we observed as the “All Souls Day” (Nov. 2) in the Philippines.  It is celebrated along with All Saints Day (Nov. 1).  It is a Catholic tradition that was adapted from ancient Mexican rituals of honoring departed loved ones (um, I think).

During the Undas, families and clans reunite.  They go home to their respective hometowns or regions, clean and repaint the tombs of deceased relatives, and cook up a simple feast (usually kakanin or glutinous rice delicacies like biko) to take with them to the cemeteries. Families would have picnics by the graves or tombs, offer flowers or food, play cards, camp out, eat and pray.  On the downside, there would be lots of traffic jams along major highways and naturally, plenty of headaches and occasional petty traffic spats and squabbles.

Offering flowers, lit candles and prayers for Mommy (Oct. 30, 2008):

Picnicking on the memorial park grounds at night and watching out for shooting stars together with Sis, Doc, Pchi, Paw, Levic, and Lolo Daddy.

Traditional holiday food: Biko prepared at home, made from glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut milk:

I remember when we go to the memorial park way back in the 80’s to visit mama.  There were a lot more people back then.  There was generally a festive atmosphere at that time.  There were food stalls all around and many families would stay for hours and hours or set up huge tents on the grass so that they could camp overnight.

Now, I have noticed that the number of people visiting the park during the Undas have dwindled down considerably during the past years.  Or that if they do visit, they will stay for a short time, and then leave.  Or some visit ahead of time (like what we did) so as to avoid the traffic hassles and headaches.  Times are changing, I guess but I am pretty sure the tradition will continue to live on…  After all Undas is all about remembering.  As an Irish blessing goes: “May you never forget what is worth remembering nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” Nobody wants to be forgotten so let’s hope we all live a life that is worth remembering… Have a Safe and Happy Undas, Pinoys!

i still dream about you, ma, from time to time…

in my dreams, i see you…

wearing one of your long house dresses or daster as we call it; cooking by the stove in the kitchen; laughing and chatting with lola azon and the maid while we lie on the marble floor watching a young ariel ureta on early morning tv…

in my dreams, i see you…

and the rest of us…complete; sitting around the old dining table; having a noontime discussion about politics, school, religion; the lazy susan spinning with your tinolang manok and steamed bangus slowly disappearing from their serving plates and into our bellies …while you refill your saucer with calamansi juice and more of that sinful bagoong…

in my dreams, i see you…

watching the carol burnett show late at night when everyone else was asleep; laughing your heart out to the point of tears at carol, harvey korman and tim conway’s antics; while peeling the largest santol that i’ve ever seen…which you kept from us…apparently to enjoy it alone since you deserve a reward after a long, long week of working and commuting from home to philcoa …back and forth, back and forth…you saw me catching you, and you smile and i smile; and then you offer me some; i accept, reveling in this special moment which was our little secret…

and in my dreams, i still see you…

happy, beautiful, and alive; grayer yet healthy and strong; and that you never left us; you whip up a batch of your macaroon cupcakes setting them on the old dining table in its new room filled with framed photos of your smiling grandchildren…you take off your glasses to wipe the lens with the hem of your daster, while you sit down, facing me to ask how my work is doing; and if i have already eaten; and if i needed anything; and if i’m happy, too…of course, i’m happy, ma, i would reply as i bite into one of your soft cupcakes…

but i’m at my happiest when i get to see you in my dreams…for in my dreams, you’re still here.

i love you, and happy birthday…

You have grown up so fast…now you’re 18 and a lovely lady whom I believe can be whatever she wants to be.  As long as you trust and believe in yourself.  May God grant your wishes and shower you with the blessings that you deserve.  We love you, darling!

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