good good friday

this year’s good friday was good, ergo — good good friday. it was my middle daughter’s (jikki) 27th birthday. and she’d decided to visit her lola (my mom) at loyola memorial park, marikina for her birthday.

i love her for thinking outside herself to visit her lola on her special day. my family has had many plans to visit, that had often ended up nowhere. this time it was a sure thing.

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my mom’s grave has been neglected. mea culpa. i plead guilty on that charge. and this day made me realize how important it is for one’s grave to be visited every so often, even when you’ve been long absent from the body.

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the lapida, after the surface was cleaned with a wet cloth

the lapida was dirty and soiled when we arrived, i had to rub off the smudge covering some of the lettering with the soles of my shoe.

a bit later, the caretaker of the grave beside my mom’s (my aunt’s and grandparents’ graves) came over and offered to clean and paint my mom’s lapida for P500. we agreed.

 

the caretaker’s name is danilo bandojo, a.k.a. danny bungal. there were two other caretakers named danny at loyola. one, danny bungal said, goes by ‘danny kalbo’.

danny bungal is 54 y.o. and has been taking care of my grandparents’ and aunt’s graves over the years now. he lives in antipolo and bikes two hours a day to and from work.

i asked him how much to plant grass, i particularly asked for carabao grass. “500 po,” he said. agreed.

“magkano mag-maintain?” i asked.

“150 a month po,” he said.

agreed. that is cheaper than a triple latte at starbucks! i negotiated an end of the month payment. he agreed.

i haggled for P450 for the cleaning and painting because the P500 he asked for included the purchase of spray paint. but he just borrowed paint, because stores were closed on good friday. he agreed.

for ka danny’s payment, i asked my daughters to pitch in any voluntary amount for the P450, to remind them of the thought of caring to spend a little, to show your love.

 

the lapida was a lovely sight after the cleaning and painting job. come first of may, we will send P500 to ka danny via cebuana lhuillier to plant carabao grass on my mom’s lot. thereafter, P150 every end of the month to maintain it by cleaning and watering the grass.

since we were already there at loyola memorial, jane also took the opportunity to offer flowers to his beloved uncle, ben f. rodriguez, and his wife. uncle ben took care of jane’s college schooling, and she lived with his family while she was in college.

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another person so dear to my heart was also laid to rest at loyola — jojo abagon, my cousin. we found her lot, and also offered flowers.

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the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to revisit cherished memories. the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to prepare myself for what was certainly to come in the future — my own eternal resting.

my family had lunch together and began our weekend stay-cation after lunch when we checked in for a 3D2N stay in a condo in the middle of metromanila.

jikki’s birthday was a good good friday!

 

 

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.