eliz and CV

saturday was antithesis: in the morning, we were invited to a birthday breakfast buffet; in the afternoon, we went to a wake.  the birthday, was the 60th birthday celebration of a dear christian friend, eliz ‘maling’ francisco: the wake, the wake of an uncle, dr. cesar vicente san pedro, 87, who died of liver cancer.

there are no ironies — if ever there were — in birthdays.  in deaths there often are.  one of the ironies in deaths is that a death in the family becomes the occasion of happy reunions between siblings, cousins, relatives, and friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.  a death in the family brings us together, and the tragedy of death becomes a comedy of reunions.  an irony.  an irony on a tragedy…

maling is special.  she is one of a few.  she hosted the birthday breakfast buffet largely for her churchmates and us fellow christians (long-time friends) from all over (100-120 persons) — a huge blow-out!  she wanted to celebrate her 60th birthday with people closest to her heart.  the lady loves the Lord, and drives a silver jaguar.

 

at the wake of my uncle, it was a noisy reunion of cousins and close uncles and aunts.  noisy, filled with laughter and animated story-telling.  an irony on a tragedy…

i met CV, a 2nd cousin (son of my mother’s 1st cousin, the departed), the youngest.  i realized that for the past 30 odd years i have never talked to him — not a word — and not even exchanged a handshake greeting in countless clan reunions we’ve seen each other at.  yesterday was our first warm handshake, when i expressed my condolences to him upon our arriving at the wake…

“CV…” i said, “does that stand for cesar vicente, after your dad, cesar, and grand-dad, vicente?”
“his dad’s name is also cesar vicente,” my eldest brother rolly said.
“no, my name is cesar vincent,” CV said.
“ahh, tweaked,” i said…

CV, i learned, was a chef.  a would-have-been doctor like his dad and elder brother, paul, but chose another path — culinary arts.  he’s now the head chef at parq vancouver.  i asked him how he cooks scrambled eggs — gordon ramsey or anthony bourdain — to break the ice.  i said i didn’t like gordon ramsey’s scrambled eggs because they were “masyadong malasado” (too runny).  from then on, it was talk about chinese cuisine — herbs and spices, star anise, cooking wine, chicken powder, soup stock made from chicken, pork, and veal, century eggs mashed in congeee; pho, wansoy; bibimbop, kimchi — asian cuisine — after the ice breaker…

when it was time to go, i bade my cousins, uncle, and aunts goodbye.  i shook CV’s hand.

“at long last,” i said.
“oo nga,” he said.

 

 

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