January was an eventful start of our year.
The Luceros celebrated New Year’s Eve with us in our home. We celebrated my nephew Gabby’s 3rd birthday, and my daughter Noelle’s 2nd birthday. We had an eventful week of prayer and fasting in church. We had a great family reunion and vacation in Boracay with the US & Cagayan de Oro Torreses.
And sadly, during the first and second week of the month, we lost two loved ones a week apart from each other. The first was my aunt (who is really my second cousin) and the second was King’s uncle. I don’t know if they ever met in any of our family gatherings, but when I started thinking about it, they had so much in common.
We call my aunt Tita Bem, though her real name is Esther. We call King’s uncle Tito Bembs, though his real name is Rolando. They were both single, never married, and did not have any kids. They were both in their 60s when they passed away. They were both great cooks too!
I will always remember Tita Bem’s generosity because for many years she baked me my birthday cakes. She shared with me her recipes when I had an interest in baking cookies and making lasagna. She was the one who gave me the recipes to the sandwiches I make, which my friends tell me are delicious. She would give us discounts when we’d order from her, whether to give out baked goodies as gifts even before I had a family, or for my daughters’ parties when I had kids. She was really an awesome baker. My favorites were her lasagna of course, her revel bars, snicker doodles, banana cup cakes, carrot-banana cake with cream cheese, chocolate cup cakes with marshmallow icing! At least I can say that a small part of her legacy is somewhat passed down to me. All I need now is an oven so I can start baking lasagna and snicker doodles again haha. The rest, I will leave to the experts. Tita Bem’s legacy of delicious food, which she inherited from her mom, actually lives on, as she has passed it on to her assistant Lenlen who may just be as gifted as Tita Bem. I thought that was extremely generous of her, considering Lenlen is not a blood relative. That really speaks of her giving nature that was not confined to family alone, just as she gave her time, her cooking, baking, singing, and beautifying talents and efforts to serve the Lord and His church.
Generosity is also something my tita had in common with King’s uncle. Tito Bembs, my father-in-law’s brother, from stories told by everyone who spoke in his eulogy and told to me by King himself, was a man who always thought of others first. He gave even if it would mean he had nothing left for himself. I would say he was generous to a fault, because many times he was already abused by other people, but he gave nonetheless. For him, possessions are merely possessions. People, especially people that he loved and cared about, were what mattered, and therefore he was always willing to help them. I got a taste of his generosity too, when he sent us a comforter as a wedding gift. He was still abroad then and I’d never met him yet, but he sent it to us, and it was actually what we used as our very first “bed” in our very first house in Sta Rosa! He also cooked the delicious food that we served in Danae’s 1st birthday party. He was quite a character too, always making us laugh. His legacy of generosity and humor lives on among his nephews, my husband included.
Tita Bem and Tito Bembs are two people whom we love and whose lives made an impact in ours and in many others. They are missed and they will always be remembered.