Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Secret Revealed

If there is one thing I learned about secrets is that life always finds a way of revealing them sooner or later.  Well, this one is the later kind.  But before I begin, I want to say that this is not my story, however reading John Silva's 2008 article "Lost and Found" in Starweek (also found here) about being reunited with a lost sister, I felt inspired and thought, why not?  This story, like John's has a happy ending  too. Of course, no real names will be mentioned to protect the privacy of the family. 

This story began in the 50's when a young woman while taking further studies in the States met a young widower who was then doing the same thing.  They fell in love and planned to get married.  But the young woman's family was vehemently against her relationship with the widower who already had young children.  The couple in spite of family opposition, continued to see each other and the inevitable happened...the woman became pregnant.  After giving birth, she decided to return to the country where she started working in her home province and was quite successful in her profession. She continued to communicate with the man who by then has also returned to Manila, perhaps hoping that her family will have a change of heart.  But after a few years, the woman decided to go back to the US.  She sold her business and left her young daughter with her mother.  The young widower continued to live in Manila raising his children and eventually he too remarried.  

That should have ended their love story...but no.  Fast forward to the day I got a call from a friend asking if I know a certain someone.  And I said, of course! She is like an older sister to me...why?  Her answer was perhaps one of the biggest surprises in my life...I will never forget the feeling.  Even now, remembering that moment, I feel a little teary.  This is what I heard my friend say over the phone..."I think she is my sister". I gasped and my jaw literally fell open.  All these years, not a few people in my small city have speculated on who the real father of my good friend whom we shall call "Inday" was.  In fact there was one particular person that people believed was her father because this man and her mother were in the States at the same time.  Inday in all the time I have known her has never ever mentioned her father. And I never asked because like most people I believed in the speculation that "that man" was indeed her birth father.  How wrong we all were.  Poor guy...God rest his soul.

So how did my friend discover they had a lost sister?  This is her story.  When her father passed away and she took it upon herself to clean up his things.  While doing so, she came upon a box filled with letters and she got curious.  It was uncharacteristic of her father to keep letters unless they were important to him and these were filed neatly in a box.  She started reading them and to her surprise, they were love letters.  Her first thought was, this woman must have been someone her father loved very much to keep these letters and as she continued reading, she saw the of a baby, then a toddler...and then, she realized that this woman must have had her father's child. A sister they never knew existed!  But what made it even more serendipitous is the fact that my friend now lives only minutes away from the last known address of Inday's mother.  How that happened is a small wonder in itself.  You see, my friend is a true-blue Manileña but was transported to our province when she married into a family from here.  Now she believes that God paved the way for her to discover the existence of a sibling.  Why?  Because one, she married an Ilonggo, secondly that Ilonggo lives in the same province as her older never known to exist before sister, and third, because of that marriage, she relocated to this province, something that she never even dreamed of doing since Manila has always been her hometown. Where do I fit in all these?  Well, my friend has been trying to put together bits and pieces of what information she could get from the letters when she remembered me!  So she decided to call me, crossing her fingers that I might know this person since I lived in the same city and probably even went to the same school.  She was right.

But it would not be as easy as I thought.  I couldn't just call Inday who has been living in the States since after graduation and so, my initial reaction was to call her mother's sister who still lived here.  That Auntie was dumbfounded, is to put it mildly.  I think I shocked her into silence.  Her response to me after asking if Inday's birth father was this man, was..."I will call you back".  After a few minutes, she did and we talked.  She said she will contact Inday and get back to me as soon as possible.  The next day, she asked that my friend call her because she wanted to meet her in person.  A few weeks later, I got an e-mail from Inday.

Inday grew up an only child left in the care of her grandmother while her mother married and had her own family in the States and her father remarried and had his second family in Manila.  But Inday was not a lonely child.  She had her mother's supportive sisters and their family and she was the pride of her grandmother being an achiever and consistent honor student.  Still, she must have wondered about her father.  So much so that Inday while studying in Manila tried to meet her father but she was not successful. It is not clear to me what happened but I was told that it did not go well and so, Inday never tried to see him again.  It is ironic that Inday did not get the recognition from her father because today his entire family including his second wife has accepted her wholeheartedly into their fold.  I can only guess that perhaps he has never told anyone of Inday's existence and it was too late to do anything about it.  I can only imagine the pain her father must have felt for being unable to do so.  But he should be at peace now knowing that Inday has been warmly welcomed into the family and has met all her siblings...and they are not few!

Life may not be fair but it has come full circle for my dear friend.  The puzzle of her life is finally completed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Coming Back to Boracay

The first time I went to Boracay was in the year 2000.  My cousins living in Davao (then) and Manila were all going to meet up there for the Holy Week and we (my mom, brother, son) decided to come along to celebrate my birthday there as well.  We stayed at Marzon's in station 3 while my cousins stayed at Tirol & Tirol in station 2.  It was a good thing that we did because the resort was only a few steps to the beach, it was clean with friendly and accommodating staff and above all quiet since it was far from the noise of bars playing loud music and party atmosphere in station 2.  We stayed for 2 nights and 3 days and although we enjoyed the beautiful beach, the company and the resort...fact is, Boracay is the worst place to be on Holy Week and so, I swore never to come back at this time of year.   Then come mom wanted to spend family time with the kids before summer vacation ends, as my nephew was going to Manila for college.  The initial plan was for all of us to bring him to Manila and spend a week there.  Of course, I knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare, not to mention a physically daunting one with 2 semi-handicapped people in tow, a 2 year old baby, 1 yaya, 1 house help, tons of suitcases and 3 teens/tween.  After a short discussion, it was decided that we all go to Boracay instead since the teens have never been there. And so, plans were made, revised and finalized with reservations and a deposit made at La Carmela de Boracay.  Sunday, May 29, 2011, we left for Iloilo via the 6 AM Supercat ferry and suprisingly, the trip was relatively okay, inspite of the not-so-good weather.  Upon arrival, we were met by our rented van and driver and after a drive-thru at Jollibee's, we were on our way.   What pleasantly surprised me was how tourist-friendly the towns of Iloilo province are...there are tourist assistance desks in town plazas as well as clean and well maintained restrooms.

We arrived in Caticlan jetty port at around 11:30 and after getting our tickets, I requested for wheelchairs for my mom and brother.  Getting on the ferry boat was a breeze since our group was the first to be allowed in.  Of course, the 10 minute trip to Cagban jetty port in Boracay became 40 minutes because of the low tide and rough waters.  Thankfully, my mom and brother were ably assisted by the ferry crew and staff of the port.  The hotel van was already waiting for us and after a short ride, we arrived at the hotel. 

next post: Boracay 2011

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Last 10 Years....

I thought I would blog about the last 10 years (2000-2010) when Y2K started and then, I realized my impending age-related short term memory loss has already began.  Somehow, I have to rack my brain to remember what the last 10 years of my life has been all about...

Okay, before I do that let's me just state that Y2K brought about a lot of changes in my life...some good, some not so good, and yes, some great ones too...but what exactly in particular???  I guess, it's this over all good feeling I get when I think about the last 10 years that makes me say so.

Does everyone remember the "panic" the year 2000 brought about?  It was mainly about computer glitches but people brought it to an apocalyptic level.  I remember thinking it's just another day folks!  Well, I think I did prepare some candles, just in case ;-)  Anyway, of course nothing major happened and the world survived for the next 10 years.  On a personal level, I had more or less gotten over my first mid-life work crisis and have decided on some paradigm shifts at work. There were new changes at work and thankfully, I was able to weather whatever storms these changes brought. Family life was doing great and I was regaining back balance in my life. 

The last 10 years brought a lot of firsts for me both at work and personal life. Among these are a case filed against me in the Ombudsman, my first teaching job at a local College of Medicine and eventually heading the Bioethics Section, finally finishing a 3- year modular Health Leadership and Management Fellowship, attending the Silver Jubilee of my med school,and reconnecting with old friends, finally achieving the dream of building a new hospital, getting involved as trainor, facilitator or resource person with  programs on a national level to develop health leaders, accidentally discovering Facebook in September 2007 and surprisingly finding family I never knew existed, the recognition and affirmation that the hospital staff is doing a good job, the healing of relationships which I have daily prayed for and lo and behold! before the year ended, God has made a way for this to gradually happen. Then there are the little things that we take for granted each day, the love of family and friends, the work we have that makes us productive and gainfully employed, the people around us who support us and make life a bit easier...All these and more, have made the last 10 years truly memorable.
And last but not the least, our little angel, Ella...the baby whom God lovingly gave the gift of life...who inspite all odds, survived. That Christmas of 2008 was nothing out of the ordinary.  It just came into my head that maybe if my mother allows it, I would bring this little baby home for a Share-a-Home Christmas...well, to make a long story family fell in love with her and she stayed. The joy of Ella completes this truly blessed decade for me. What else is there to say but....Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finding Family This Christmas

Christmas when I was a child was all about tradition...the family gatherings at my grandparents whether in Manila or in Silay, the "you have to go to sleep or Santa won't come" threat after dinner, the opening of gifts and noche buena at midnight, the Christmas morning breakfast and mass, and luncheon with all the other relatives and extended families.  After my maternal grandfather died, my maternal grandmother soon after moved to Bacolod.  Although Christmas celebrations continued to be traditional, it stayed local...meaning we stopped going to Manila for the holiday season.  Then my uncle (Dad's brother) and paternal grandfather died within a month of each other.  And so, that year because my Dad's side of the family did not want to celebrate in Silay with all the memories of Christmas past, we went to Manila and Christmas Eve was spent in a hotel room near Paco Park and New Year's eve in the boat coming back to Negros. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What About The Children?

When we get married, the next logical thing that happens are the coming of the children.  But when a marriage fails, what happens to the children?  Often times couples forget that the failure of a marriage does not only involve the two of them but largely affects the children. It cannot be denied that the family is vital in the development of children.  I do not think I would be the person that I am if my parents did not prioritize family, specifically their kids. We knew our parents had problems in their marriage but they never made us afraid that our family will fall apart...we were raised secure, comforted by their love and devotion. Yes, it may sound selfish but when you are a child, your parents and family is the only world you know of.  This is why parenthood is such a big sacrifice albeit, a fruitful and joyful one.  So, even if the marriage can't be saved, the children should always remain the priority of the couple. The children should be made to feel they are number one in their parent's lives, and in the eventuality that the parents find new partners then they should be truthful to the children without taking away that sense of love and security. When other half-siblings are born, the children of the first marriage should never be relegated to the background.  I have half-siblings from my father's extra-marital affairs whom he never acknowledged.  They had to wait for his death to be recognized. I do understand that they long for the love that they never received from my dad. Still, I am grateful that my father protected us from his indiscretions and never took away time and resources from us.  It is unfortunate that his illegitimate children had very little time with him when he was alive but then they they were never part of my father's plan in life...they just, happened...calling them an accident may be harsh, but that's the truth. And their mothers are people I would rather not have anything to do with because for me, they are more to blame. These women knew very well that my father already had a family but they still willingly began a relationship with him and even if they thought otherwise, they should have ended it when they realized that for my father, they will always be the other woman. But they didn't and continued the illicit relationship even begetting children without any thought of consequences. My mother stayed with my father knowing all these because of us, her children...and for that I will be forever grateful.   Still, these are my father's children and at present, I do have a semblance of relationship with my half-siblings and I am very happy that they are doing well with their lives in spite of the circumstances of their birth. My mom always say that the children are the innocent victims and in fact, has accepted their presence in our lives more easily than I had, to the point that she even helped send them to school. But I know how much hurt my father gave my Mom and on my part I want to spare her the memory of this hurt by keeping our physical contact with my half siblings to a minimum. I know they want to be recognized, however in order for me to accept them openly, they should put away the lies and illusions told to them and accept the truth about our father, their mothers and about their birth.  Yes, these may be brutal but it's the only way we can have an honest relationship with each other.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

My Son Is Turning 20 Today...Sniff

Twenty years ago, my son came into my life as a 3 month old baby a few days after my dad passed away. My Dad had a massive first heart attack and the family was so unprepared for the loss. He attached himself to me before he could even say mama and as soon as he can walk he would follow me around...wherever I was in the house, he would be right there beside me. This little baby boy stole my heart like no man has ever done. He has given me the gift of motherhood and I finally understood what unconditional love looked like. When he was little I would always pray that he would turn out to be a good man...and well...I also hoped he would be tall since his birth mother is a very short person. So, I made him drink liters of milk, gave him growth vitamins and made him sleep early. When he turned 16, he was almost 5 feet 9 and I said to myself...I don't want to be greedy...5'9" is okay Lord. Well, he grew another inch well as bigger! And so, I begged the Lord...enough, please. The little boy (who has since become a Big Brother) has grown to be a man full of potentials. He still has a lot of growing up to do but hey, he is getting there...and I smile when I see a glimpse of the man I pray and hope that he will be.

Happy 20th Birthday, my son ♥ ♥ ♥ You are now in the threshold of adulthood...May God continue to bless you today and always.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Defining Family

I looked up the legal definition of a family and this is what I got...and this...and then this. It only goes to show that today's family is difficult to define because of its diversity primarily due to the many changes it has undergone through the years. In school I was taught that a family consists of a father, a mother and a child.  That teaching continues to this day even when families and family dynamics are no longer as simple as that.  When my son was in Grade 2 in a local Catholic school, his social studies teacher asked them to say something about their families and some of the children gave unusual answers.  She obviously was unprepared (or simply clueless) for what they gave because, not getting the "right" answers, she further explained that a father is the one that made your mother pregnant and a mother is the one who carried you in her tummy! Of course, when he was picked up from school, the first thing my son asked was, "where is my father" and proceeded to relate to his grandmother what the teacher said.  My son by the way was adopted when he was 3 months old and he knew this, but the teacher confused him because the man he considered as Papa was my younger brother. My mom was so livid that she called me at work and demanded that I confront the teacher for her stupidity! I had to pacify her and of course, went to see the teacher. She was apologetic and admitted that she did not know how to respond to the children's sharing and subsequent questioning. To make a long story shorter, I had to sit down with my son about his birth father (he knew who his birth mother was) and being a little boy, he lost interest and even forgot about the whole thing after a few days. My son was only one of the 10 or more kids out of the 30 students whose family dynamics no longer follow the norm.  In fact, he told me that one of his classmates even shared that he had a feeling that his older sister is his real mother...and the poor teacher had no answer to that.

The Family Law definition that defines family as a group of individuals who share ties of blood, marriage, or adoption; a group residing together and consisting of parents, children, and other relatives by blood or marriage; a group of individuals residing together who have consented to an arrangement similar to ties of blood or marriage is an acceptable definition although I think the words "residing together" really refer to the family as a unit and not to the family as a larger group. Also, I believe parents whether biological or not, should be a dad and a mom...I do not want to belabor this issue but I strongly feel from my experience as a single adoptive mother that growing children do not need this added confusion about sexual orientation and the like. My brother became surrogate dad to my son and it made all the difference.  And then there are the blended families and extended families. So for my purposes, I refer to family as the following:
  1. a group of people related by ancestry or marriage; relatives
  2. all those claiming descent from a common ancestor; tribe or clan; lineage
  3. basic social unit consisting of persons united by ties of marriage (affinity), “blood” (consanguinity), or adoption
In my previous post, I wrote that I was discovering a lot of secrets aka little known family facts while making my family tree.  At the same time, it has made me look at families and relations with a little more understanding and empathy than before. It also started me doing some research on family structure and dynamics and how these affects family relationships through the years.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Learning From The Scandals Of The Distant Past

    As I am making more progress on my parents' respective family trees, I am also discovering a lot of family secrets...or maybe they were not really secrets but just got buried in the past.  As I unravel our family histories, I realize that human behavior then was not much different from what it is today. The only difference is that in the past there were clear cut rules on appropriate behavior while in this modern age, what is right and wrong has become relative. The poignant movie The Age of Innocence is a good example of how relationships and it's complications were handled by the middle and upper class in the 19th to the mid 20th century. There was a standard of behavior that put emphasis on importance of family and respect of society. If you fail to observe these, you are banished, exiled or marked as a persona non grata doomed to be set aside and ignored by family and society the rest of your life.  In the past, arranged marriages were common and if you're lucky, you may actually fall in love but more often than not, it was very businesslike.  And so it is not uncommon to find husbands with extra-marital affairs and illegitimate children from these affairs...or unhappy trophy wives, bored with their passionless marriage or controlled by overbearing husbands who would spend their days gossiping or gambling or giving birth.  Of course, just because our ancestors were in an arranged marriage does not mean all of the above happens. If ever there were scandals, it could just as well mean that some of my ancestors were free spirits and non-conformists!  There is also such a thing as "repeating the sins of the father" my father's tree for example, we are descended from a man whom we never knew had 3 women in his life.  I always thought that my great-great grandmother was his only wife and that he died relatively young since his children ranged from 18 to 3 years old at the time of his death.  It was only years later that I learned that our line is from the 3rd wife and he probably died of old age!  The point that I am trying to make is that when it comes to illicit sexual relationships and all the emotions and lies that come with it, nothing has changed from the past to the present.  How about the future?  I am hopeful about the future because unlike in the past when these were never talked about, today we are more open, more honest and more willing to talk about our feelings and problems.  While the past encouraged secrets, the future calls for honesty.

    Next: Defining Family

    Important Note: The meet and greet party has been moved to November 20, still a Saturday.  So far we have about 15 confirmed people coming. 

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    It's Getting To Know Your Relatives Time

    It's on!  The Eustaquio Lopez Descendants will have a pot luck merienda cena meet and greet gathering on Saturday, November 6, 2010.  Venue will be in Titil's place in Villa Valderrama.  Of course we will be including the one who started it all, Tito Rollie Espina, whose dream is to keep the legacy of Graciano Lopez y Jaena alive among the descendants of the clan.  I am so excited...maybe we can finally get our Lopez genealogy book going...

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Family Secrets...and Why The Truth Has To Be Set Free

    I am a relatively honest person...what you see is what you get and I have very few secrets, probably because I am not very good at remembering or keeping one.  On the other hand, I would always tell my friends that if they have something to confide, they should make me promise to keep it a secret and I will honor that promise till the end of time. But what about family secrets? The kind that everyone wants to forget...those that are considered taboo...those which changed lives...or that which was deemed so humiliating and scandalous that to talk about it will mean banishment! (big grin)

    Well, I think every family has at least one and family secrets have a way of making themselves known...sooner or later. Why?  Oftentimes, simply because the time has come to tell the real story.  Although I personally believe that family secrets are not subjects for bedtime stories, I also believe that there are those because of their very nature, have been the subject of speculation, hearsay, illusions and delusions, so that an injustice continues to be made to the original parties concerned, as this "perceived truth" is handed down through the generations.  These are the kind that needs to be revealed/clarified and placed in it's proper perspective. Sometimes what people perceive as true is not really the truth but if said often enough, eventually becomes their reality.  The saying that not everything is as it seems is especially true when it comes to family secrets. 

    So how should a family secret be revealed?  Now, I do not advocate telling it to one and sundry. 

    My experience tells me that when the time comes, the person that need to know has to be told honestly and simply. One should be prepared to back up their story with the facts.  Yes, in some cases, the truth will hurt but then, truth also sets us free. It cannot be avoided that shock, blame, regret and sadness will occur when family secrets are discussed, but the sins of our ancestors are not ours and we should learn to understand and hopefully, forgive.  Learning and talking about family secrets has made me a better person, I has made me understand the humanness of our ancestors and man in has given me a broader perspective on showed me how people can rise above adversity and made me realize that things happen to the best of people for reasons only they know...and finally, that family secrets are nothing to be ashamed of, because it is a fact that some of our ancestors' mistakes produced a few of our family's greatest achievements.  Still, there is the question, does the end justify the means?  In an ideal world our private lives should mirror our public lives.  This is why I believe that family secrets when the occasion calls for it should be revealed and used to help future generations learn from the experiences of our ancestors and finally heal the family.  

    There are no mistakes in life...only lessons.

    PS. I wrote this post after many discoveries and realizations I had while doing our family tree :) 

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Family Linkages

    I remember looking at my grandfather's photo albums as a child and wondering who all those people in the pictures were.  My paternal grandfather was a meticulous man and it was this trait that preserved all those family pictures in several albums.  Those albums are in my aunt's keeping and I hope my cousin would finally find the time to digitalize them all because they contain precious and priceless memories.  These photographs are proof of our family roots and can greatly help in validating family connections. I have always been interested in history and genealogy and I am trying to complete our own family tree.  I was able to buy the genealogy books of three families in my paternal line but I missed getting that of my paternal great grandmother's father's genealogy book.  I should get one during the next reunion (although I rarely attend those things).  I enjoy reading through the list of names...awed with the fact that once we were all connected by one set of parents.   As I go over the list, I find that people whom I have been friends with for years were actually blood relatives...and that there are people in the list that I would never have imagined to belong in the same clan as I.  If my father's family have all these books, my mother's side is a bit more difficult to reconstruct, although some family members have tried their best to make a family tree during the reunion a few years ago, but then after that not much progress has been made to follow up clues and suggestions.  Until the advent of Facebook, that is.  Facebook has made it possible for me to connect with long lost relatives both on my paternal and maternal sides, and looking at their photos, I see my grandparents, my parents, my uncles...myself.  Hopefully, now that we are connected, we can finally fill in those blanks in our family tree.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    From Heaven Looking Down at Me...

    My Dad would have turned 77 years old today August 25, 2009 except that he passed away 18 years ago. We have celebrated his birthday every year since then by attending mass, visiting his gravesite, offering flowers. It is not often that I would feel his presence and I'd like to believe that this is because he is happy in Heaven. But today, it seems to me that Daddy was making his presence felt in more ways than one. It seems that he knew I needed him because looking back in the events of the past few days, people I needed to aid and encourage me were suddenly there...people whom I rarely see but they were just the right people to help me! It was like I had a special angel looking out for me. Everything was falling into place...I felt so cared for and supported. Serendipity? I don't think so. This is a time in my life when I really need my father to be there for me, to guide and to fight for me...and he came through! He could not be here physically so he sent angels in the form of people whom he knew could and would take his place. Thank you dear GOD for letting Daddy take care of us even if he is now with you in Heaven. Happy Birthday Daddy! I may not have said it out loud but I love you.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Preemie Girl

    Who is Preemie Girl?

    Last year, in mid-July, a woman was brought DOA to the emergency room of the provincial hospital. Her severely premature baby miraculously survived but was brought to the hospital 6 or 7 hours after birth. Her mother was previously admitted to the hospital's ICU due to hypertension and was closely monitored for several weeks.  She was relatively in a stable condition and the doctors were waiting for the baby to become more viable before doing a caesarian section, but the family decided to go home.  She eventually delivered at home and died due to severe postpartum bleeding.  The baby developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and was not expected to make it.  Because this was a public hospital with limited resources, she was not getting the kind of care severely premature babies like her should have. Some mothers nursing their own premature babies would give her their milk and help take care of her. Initially I really did not take much interest in her...the first time I saw her, she was only a bit longer than my hand and I thought, this baby is not going to make it. But lo and behold, she survived! that eventually she became well enough to be transferred to the pediatric ward. The nurses in the pediatric station would take turns in taking care of her and soon she was everybody's baby. Of course, being critically ill, she was given emergency baptism earlier and as usual, the staff took liberty with my name (as they are wont to do so every time they needed a name for someone in the hospital, LOL) and that of the hospital's Patron Saint, Therese of the Child Jesus. So Preemie Girl was named...Maria Estrella Therese, nicknamed Ella.  As she continued to thrive, donations from doctors and nurses came pouring in and babysitting for her was divided among the different hospital areas, including myself. I would take the 10 AM-3 PM shift before passing her to the Laboratory Department in the afernoon!  The Provincial Social Services tried to locate her father but was unable to do so and she was declared abandoned.  Then one day, he suddenly appeared in the hospital with a well-dressed lady in tow.  Preemie Girl was a little over 3 months old by this time and about a week before, she was featured in the daily afternoon TV newscast with the USLS medical students who had a televised activity in the hospital.  The hospital social worker and myself talked to the father, asking him why he never came back...and he said he had no money. We all felt that this was just one reason but the truth was, he never really expected the baby to survive. I asked him, what if the baby died? Who would bury her? Where will she be buried? He had no answer. I asked about the woman with him.  He said, this lady was a former employer who called him and offered to help him with the hospital cost.  From our conversation, I knew he was lying and that he had already made a deal with the woman to get the baby in exchange for paying the hospital and himself too.  I told him that the baby is now under the care of social services and we could not just hand her over to him since he and his family literally left her for dead and never once visited to check on her condition.  I then told him to get the woman who offered to help because I wanted to talk to her. But, the woman never did; in fact they both left without taking leave!  The hospital staff upon learning of their presence went into a panic and crying mode but I assured them that we will not hand over Preemie Girl to anyone since she was still too small and weak to be brought home. That was in early October.  According to the ward nurses, he came back about a week after but was only allowed to view the baby.  That was the last we have seen of  him.  The last we heard, he left his minor children to the care of his in laws and has remarried and moved to another town.

    Last December 2008, I decided to bring Preemie Girl home for a "share-a home" visit during the holiday season for. Well, the share-a-home became more of a stay-at-home thing.  My family and I have decided to foster her with adoption in mind.  Bringing her back to the hospital was no longer an option for me and my family. It is a fact that the hospital environment is not a good one for a relatively healthy premature baby to be in.  She will be high-risk for infection being exposed to all kinds of illnesses.  Also, I learned that after office hours when she is returned to the ward, the staff on duty is so busy that they cannot feed or change her on time.  This is probably the reason why after 5 months she is still only a little more than 3 kilograms.  Now, after only 2 weeks with us, she had a 1.5 kilogram weight gain!  Taking care of Preemie Girl has created a huge dent on our budget and routine, but the miracle that she is makes it all worthwhile....what is important is that this beautiful baby has been blessed by God and all of us who have taken care of her have been blessed as well.  She has turned our home routine topsy-turvy, but my mother and Big Brother  are only too happy to have her with us adding joy to our daily life.  We welcome her to the family where she is not only wanted but also very much loved.

    I have to end now...Preemie Girl is asking to be fed :)

    Sunday, January 11, 2009


    My two grandmothers were as different from each other as oil and water. 

    Lola Rizing@age 40
    My paternal grandmother Rizalina Javelona Lopez, died at age 91...a pretty long life. We had our share of long conversations which consisted mostly of her memories and how she would have lived her life if she had the chance to do it all over again. She told me stories no one in the family knew. I am very privileged to share a few of her secrets. Her husband and eventually her children too, looked upon her as a very dependent person, and thus treated her like a child. But the Lola Rizing I knew was someone who was not an intellectual or highly educated, but was very insightful and extremely wise in her old age...someone who outwardly manifested a soft character but inside was a strong, self-sacrificing woman who would do anything for the children and grandchildren she loved. Her opinions did not matter much to her husband so she learned to keep it to herself, deferring to him at all times. Why?  To keep the peace, she said. All she wanted was for her family to be happy and loving with each other. She was very very prayerful, someone who could be described as "devoted" because she had a novena for everything. I remember calling her ahead of time when I had my examinations and she would say the 9 hour novena to the Infant Jesus while I was taking them. It worked because in spite of my aversion to studying, I would pass!  Although not very vain, she avoided looking at the mirror when she reached her 80's, because she said she no longer recognizes the woman that looks back at this sense, yes, she was child-like. Then again, she was in a way right, because as we age, our physical self changes, but our mental self does not really grow old.  Lola also said to me that although she is elderly, she does not feel any different from her 16 year old self.  She was a real beauty inside and out.

    Lola Esting@age16
    My maternal grandmother, Estrella Guingona Meñes, on the other hand was a pharmacist and a board topnotcher.  Early on in her life, she developed a strong sense of independence and responsibility. When her parents decided to move to Mindanao from Panay, she stayed behind to live with an aunt who was married to a Sala in Dumangas, Iloilo. She helped send younger siblings to school and took care of her parents in their old age.  She met my grandfather sometime in 1929 or 1930 when she worked a a pharmacist with the Gullas family in Cebu. As a young mother with 6 small children ranging from 10 years old to a newborn infant, she survived WWII but not without consequences. When the war was over, Lola Esting was diagnosed with Pulmonary Tuberculosis and was sent to the United States to be treated in  the Tuberculosis Institute in Monrovia, the same facility where President Quezon was confined.  Her upper right lung was surgically removed since that was the only known treatment at that time and she was supposed to stay for a year but decided to come home earlier since she missed her family so much.  This was also the time when Streptomycin was started to be used for TB patients and my Lola opted for this so she could come home to the Philippines.  Needless to say, she got well.    She had a dominant personality and was quite opinionated.  She and her husband had a modern relationship in the sense that they both respected and treated each other as partners.  My relationship with her was a perfect example of one with a generational gap. We were not close confidantes, although we cared enough to be thoughtful of each other.  She would see to it that I had my meals on time, would worry when I come home late (I lived with her for a year when I was in school) and I would browse for hours in bookstores looking for nice books that she would like to read, and bring her the food she likes to eat, but won't buy because she thinks that they were too expensive. She disagreed with the way my parents brought me up because I was raised to be outspoken which she was not too happy about.  But in the end, I took care of her when she got very sick, my very independent Lola Esting became dependent on me in the last few weeks of her life. I was by her hospital bed holding her hand when she died at age 82.

    I write about my two grandmothers today to celebrate their lives which began on a January on January 2, 1906 and the other on January 23, 1908.  Coincidentally, both passed away also on the same month, Lola Rizing on October 12, 1997 while Lola Esting on October 11, 1990.  Yes, my two Lolas were very different in character, yet very similar in their goals and values in life. I hope that through me, their oldest grandchild, much of their hopes and dreams have been fulfilled.

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    MY SON IS 18

    I became a mom in February 1991, the month my father died. I did not plan on motherhood, not for lack of a maternal instinct but mainly because I was already in my 30's with no relationship that was serious enough for marriage...yes, I believe that children should be born out of love and marriage. At a time when my family was experiencing a strong sense of loss, this 3 month old baby boy came into our lives. He brought laughter when we found very little reason to do so. His presence at home made us forget our sadness and we all began focusing our attention on him. Before long, I was spending more time with him than any other aspect in my life...even my work and friends. In fact, this was the year I started being late for work almost everyday because I was putting him first before anything else. In other words, I fell in love. He was God's gift to me and he made me a mother before it was too late. Two days from now, on November 3, 2008, this baby turns 18. Looking back, he is the best thing that happened in my life. He is my joy, my friend, my son.

    Saturday, August 23, 2008


    My parents had 3 children, 2 sons and a daughter, but only one got married...the oldest son, my younger brother. He has 2 children from this marriage, a boy and a girl. This marriage was doomed from the start and eventually ended. The kids are now 14 and 11 respectively and are really bright and gifted...their parents are so lucky to have them. Unfortunately both my brother and his ex-wife are the kind of people who should never have children. Why? Well, because in their hierarchy of needs, their number one priority is themselves. Their needs, wants and activities come first before their children or everything else for that matter and so, my nephew and niece do not experience the kind of nurturing that growing children should have. Today was the beginning salvo of my nephew's high school intramurals. He was participating in the cheerdance contest and I found out yesterday that none of his parents will be watching him perform. The reason? His dad couldn't get off from work and his mom thinks it's a waste of gasoline to go to his school...I decided to call him to ask if he wanted me to watch him instead? He was so happy and I brought along his sister, their nanny (who acts as their surrogate parent albeit not a very competent one) and dragged my 17 year old son as well. I'm glad I did. We had fun driving on the way to Victorias and arrived with plenty of time to spare, so that I was able to get a good parking space. My son and niece bought a small bucket of french fries and sodas which we shared while sitting around the football field where the students were going to perform. My nephew's team was the 3rd group to perform...all 140++ of them. They were quite good, in fact I think they have a good chance of getting a place in the top 3. We left after a while because their mom was going to get them for the weekend but on our way out, I decided to take them to Victorias Golf and Country Club, a place where I and my brothers spent many family outings with my parents while growing up. The kids were all excited but my son (who was dragged to come, remember?) wasn't really too keen on seeing the inside since it looked nondescript from the outside...but I said, wait till you see the course. I haven't been in this place for a long long time and driving through the entrance gate brought back good memories. We all got down from the vehicle and there was this Korean guy talking on his cellphone...and I whispered to my nephew...yoboseyo...I didn't think he heard it but as I walked by, he said maayong hapon and so I laughed and said, he speaks ilonggo! I excitedly entered the clubhouse with the kids following behind and there it was! The beautiful VICMICO golf course of my youth. The kids were in awe too and wanted to get down but we really did not have time (their mom might come anytime) so I just promised that we can come back one day soon. I mean to keep the promise since it wasn't hard to drive there, in fact it took only about 30 minutes from Silay to VICMICO...and I'm such a lazy driver ;) When we went to the parking lot, the Korean guy was still there...smiling. And so I said hello and asked if he knew how to speak Ilonggo and he said yes, he was trying to learn and we started a short conversation. It was a bit difficult to understand his english and I just nodded and said...ohhhh, okay...several times. He said something about being a professional "lady" golfer and being licensed which started the kids giggling...and so, we said our goodbyes. As I drove off, I waved at him while the kids were doubling up laughing! My nephew said that I was nodding and saying my standard "ah ok" which is a signal that I am not really listening or I did not understand what is being said....then they started laughing hysterically again. The journey home was a time for bonding...there was so much laughter, the kind that bubbles up in your throat that you just can't help but laugh. I'm glad I went to see my nephew's one of those times that create good memories...the ones that their parents should be sharing instead of missing out.

    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    The Meaning of Christmas

    Today is Christmas Day ...a few more hours and it will be a day of the past. I went to hear mass at 11 AM, having overslept after our noche buena celebration which ended at about 2 AM. As I listened to the sermon, the words of the priest struck a note because he talked about something which I needed to hear.

    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Renewing Family Ties...

    The last time I saw them was in 1984 just before they left to immigrate in the US with their parents. They were children then and so much has happened and changed since then. Last week, they came to visit...our US based first cousins, children of my mom's youngest brother. They came with their mother, my uncle's first wife and also, the 4 year old daughter of my cousin, the first grandchild in their family. It was good to see them all grown up and leading relatively responsible lives. It would have been really wonderful if their dad was with them but, he passed away 2 years ago and part of his ashes is buried here with his parents. But, like what his daughter said, she was sure that their papa was with them in spirit and happy to see them connecting with his family here. I think so too...and my mom after we brought them to the airport and saw them off...said aloud, "Raul, are you happy now?"

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    family reunion, losing my voice and a car airconditioner that does not cool

    Family reunions were never a big deal for me since I really could just barely stand spending time and talking with some of my closest blood relatives (mostly on my dad's side)...don't get me wrong, I care about all of them and in fact, a few are my best friends but there is a bunch that I really have nothing in common with and have a totally different value system so that being around them makes reunions a path to sanctification for me ;) But with the death of the two in-laws (all on my mother's side), family get-togethers were the norm for the past two weeks and I found myself going from one relative to another for lunch or dinner. I have not seen some of these relatives for a long time, others arrived from Canada or the U.S. so that even though I was not one to initiate a reunion, it is during occasions like these that I am more conscious of the importance of family ties especially for those of us who are now in our mid-life. Most families lose touch with their cousins as they grow older and eventually as the family grow bigger and settle to live in different places, we no longer know who the next generation are and the possibility of marriage between future generations of relatives is very real. A case in mum was born in Cebu City and raised in Manila by parents whose roots are in Negros Occidental, Kalibo and Guimaras while my dad was born in Manila, raised in Silay City, Negros Occidental by parents whose roots were from Iloilo and Silay. They met in Manila and came home to Silay where they settled. Now you would not think they were related, would you? Well, they are, although several times removed, still, they come from the same ancestor. I only knew about this when I got involved with the making of the Lopez (of the Graciano Lopez Jaena clan) genealogy...that my mum whose mother is a Guingona is actually a grand-niece of my dad because his grand-aunt from the Lopez side married a Jamora who married a there. Of course all these activities plus work = a bacterial infection and so I am suffering from Acute Bronchitis right now and have been absent from work because I lost my voice last Friday....but that did not stop me from joining relatives at home for the final family reunion before my aunt leaves for New York. I am still coughing badly but at least I got my voice back and over-all my day was great except for the fact that the car airconditioning unit also conked out. Yesterday was my Dad's birthday, he would have been 75 so I guess as a way of helping me out, I was able to have the airconditioning fixed by late all's well that ends well! And it's a holiday tomorrow :)

    Friday, September 19, 2003

    The Kids In My Life

    I have been so busy...with work, work, work...then some more work. I guess you are now picturing one very harassed woman. Truth're probably right. But I don't let it get to's just one of those months where everything is happening all together. It's no big deal. Really. Okay, so now where was I the last time?...Oh yes, I was talking about the kids in my life. When I reached 30, I used to wonder if I would ever settle down and marry or if not, then what would my life be when I grow old. Now I know. I have 3 wonderful kids in my life, my adopted son, my nephew and niece, whom I adore and who adores me back. Where are the parents, one might ask? Well, my son knows his birth mother and my nephew and niece live with their father but it is me, their "Nanang" whom they consider "mom". I used to say I did not want children because I had no patience for them. Oh sure, they were fun to be around with, but not all the time. Then my son came into life a few months before I turned 35 and I found that I loved being a mommie. For a while I played reliable auntie to my brother's kids but after his marriage broke up, I'm now part-time surrogate mom. So I guess God knew what my destiny was...

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