Even when I was a kid, I prefer to listen to the stories of those older than me.
One thing that never fails to amaze me, is the fact that lola never showed that she has a favorite among my cousins. I never felt that she favors any one of us. But when I and my cousins were all grown up, we agreed that lola’s number 1 apo is the eldest among the cousins, Manoy Nono; nonetheless, it was more of a sense of pride that lola never treated anyone of us differently.
For those who do not know her, she’s known as Tiya Pising or Felisa. Or for those who would watch the Sorsogon National High School’s annual alumni parade, she is the most senior among the alumni and would be the first one in front after the drum and bugle corps. I noticed that the gap between her batch and the 30s batch became closer and closer. And lola would insist that she attends the parade. Her last parade was 2 years ago, she had to take a sedan driven by her daughter, Tita Chi.
I remember back in Fairview, in my cousin’s house, she would still try to wash her own plate and utensils; she also would wash her underwear. And she was in the 80s then.
And I was lucky she was able to attend my wedding. Afterwards, she attended my cousin’s wedding in Cebu. I think that was the last apo wedding she attended because she’s having a hard time travelling.
I guess that kind of normalcy in her life gave her a long life that some might covet.
I still remember Lola Felisa would bring me to Velasco (now Jane’s Restaurant) for a Magnolia Ice Cream cup (I could still taste the sweetness of the mango flavor) or a waffle hotdog from Bahay Minindalan (apparently, they were the only resto with waffle maker during those days). I was 5 years old then, studying in Colegio de la Milagrosa in Brgy. Talisay. Lola would pick me up from school around 4pm.
When Lola Felisa visited Japan for a couple of times (one of her sons, Tito Don, lived there for a couple of years or so), I remember her presents – robots transforming into steel balls (yup, die cast was common then) and toys that couldn’t find in SM back then. One time, my mom was so mad when I lent one of my toys with one of my classmates – it was a white car, which I called ‘Devil’s Car’ from the comic book, Aliwan – and it was returned with scribble all over its body!
Lately, before she went into coma (a few weeks after her 99th birthday), I was trying to put stories of the old times together (this is where the idea of Orosipon series came about). I was much interested on the history of the Laurio/Jamila clan and wanted to write about it.
I learned that her parents were from Abuyog. Her father could speak Spanish and never finished college – her father got hitched when he fell in love with my lola’s mother. The family was landed – they owned part of that land that’s now occupied by the DAR office and Camp Pabilani; the Commonwealth government bought it when it started growing the young Philippine Army under Gen. MacArthur. The land was eventually divided amongst my lola’s siblings, some can be found as far as the border with Casiguran.
She was the family’s walking family tree – she can trace 3 or 4 levels of consanguinity in the family, ending up with lots of relatives in the old town.
I can still remember her story about why my lolo who never ran again in the mayoral election in the town of Castilla in the early 50s. Apparently, it was very costly for the family. Eventually, lolo Feliculo became the regional director for Philsugin (now the Philippine Sugar Authority) in Bacolod City; thus, lola Felisa had to move with him and my mom.
Happy birthday, lola!