Family, FEATURED

My Yaya Flora

My Yaya Flora came to work for our family before I was born. I’m the youngest of two, so she first took care of my brother. It was merely a year and 8 months before my brother was upstaged by the new star in the family hahaha. Yaya took care of us. She couldn’t stop our countless fights, but she would be there to comfort me. Because my parents both worked, she was my constant companion. Come to think of it, I don’t know how she juggled her time and energy between me and my brother. She was in her 50s when she became our nanny. All I know is when I needed her, she was there.

I didn’t like taking the plane when I was a kid, so my parents would let me ride the boat (Negros Navigation) instead. Summers were spent either in Cagayan de Oro or Iloilo, and sometimes without the rents. My brother would fly with one or both parents, or alone. I would take the boat with my dad but mostly just with Yaya. I remember even staying in the  economy section, sleeping on yellow hammock-like beds with hundreds of other people, no air-conditioning, no privacy. It used to take 24 hours to get to Iloilo and 48 to Cagayan de Oro. We would have numerous bags with us (no wheels in our luggage — that’s how Yaya rolled), and we would bring adobo for our food. Other times we stayed in a room with 6 other strangers, with air-conditioning, and we had food stubs. There was some privacy, but bathrooms were for common use outside our quarters. I had pretty cool adventures as a kid. And I had a pretty cool and strong yaya.

I remember she would always set aside mangoes for me. She knew they were my favorite. She would tap my butt so I could fall sleep when I was little. She would sleep with me in my room. She would feed me. She would take me to school with the tricycle service. She interviewed the little boy who said he loved me, asked him if he was ready to marry me, hahaha. She would tell me stories about the children she took care of before us. I would ask her about her husband and if she had any kids, and she would always be coy about it. I never knew the real story. She would even buy clothes for me in the palengke, bring me pasalubong from the province. She did everything to help my parents take care of us while my parents pursued their careers. And I was not the easiest child (or teenager haha) to take care of! She was so patient. She loved me even through my outbursts and tantrums. She stayed with us for over 20 years.

I remember she broke her arm in my cousin’s house because she slipped on wet cement. That probably happened because she was protecting me. I might have been around 7 or 8 then, she was 65 or 66. Her body never fully recovered from that. She would complain to me about it as she/we got older. I may have asked for one massage too many hehehe (I liked massages even as a kid — my dad always massaged us too).  I remember when she would heave deep breaths and would lay down to rest. I was in my teens then, her in her 70s. Maybe I was afraid that she would die soon. I remember asking her if she wanted to go to heaven when she died. She told me of course she did. I asked her if she believed in Jesus. She told me she did. I remember leading her in prayer to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I was not a practicing Christian then (I only became one at 24). Maybe I was on one of my highs after a retreat or something. Thank God she didn’t judge me and my rebelliousness, but accepted my words. The seeds of the Gospel that was sown in my heart since I was a child were at work somehow.

I remember when she got sick. I was the one taking her to the doctor to figure out what was wrong. She was in pain and I distinctly remember two doctors. One was a christian doctor who did not charge us for the consultation. The other was too rough handling her. My poor yaya yelped in pain, but I was not able to help her. I still remember that doctor’s face and his built, but not his name. I guess Yaya also couldn’t explain what she was feeling. She was already around 80 then. I don’t think there was any diagnosis. I don’t remember anymore. But I know that we decided it was better for her to go home to San Carlos, Negros Occidental, where her sister and daughter could take care of her and where she would not feel obliged to work. We felt that even though we told her to stop working, she would still do chores at our house.

The next time I saw Yaya was when we visited San Carlos in 2007, around 5 years later. I was married and Danae turned 2 then. Yaya was 88 and doing well! I made sure I got some clothes for her and that she met King and Danae. She was after all a huge part of my childhood. It was such a happy reunion. Amazing that she got to hold Danae in her arms, the way she held me in hers! Funny that I think every year before that, she would call the house and remind us of her birthday hahaha. She had the same birthday as Jose Rizal, June 19. It would be so hard to talk to her because she couldn’t hear well, but we assured her that her birthday cash (c/o my brother and mom) would be given to her. My parents honored their promise to take care of her financially in her old age as she had honored her promise to stay with us and take care of us kids.

The next time I saw her was in 2009. King was not with us, but I had Danae and Noelle with me, along with my mom. Noelle never met Yaya because Yaya was sick in the hospital. I did not want to bring my kids there. I went alone with my cousin. It was heart breaking. She could barely open her eyes. I don’t know what was wrong then. All I know is it was hard for me to see her like that. I just caressed her hip, said hi. I didn’t want to add to her pain. I don’t even remember if I prayed for her. I hope I did.

I thought that was the last year Yaya would be alive. But to my amazement, it wasn’t! God extended her life a few more years. We haven’t been able to visit San Carlos again and so that was the year I last saw and talked to her. She passed away last Friday, peacefully in her sleep, at age 96. She was buried yesterday. Her sister and daughter were there. I wish she could have met all my girls. I wish she could have met my brothers’ boys. She would have been thrilled. I wish I was able to hug her and say goodbye. I am sad that she is gone but I am happy that she is finally able to rest, to truly rest.

Thank you Lord for my Yaya. Thank you for the sacrifices she made for us. Thank you for the opportunity you gave us to love her back and appreciate her, though words and financial support I know are not enough. Thank you Lord because you are the one who loves her perfectly and completely. Thank you that her service was worth it. She had a hand at how my brother and I turned out. She was one of the channels of Your love and care. Thank you because she is now at peace with You.

Danae's Bday in Bacolod 2007 -102
Yaya and her sister Angheling 🙂
Danae's Bday in Bacolod 2007 -107
2007, right before Danae’s 2nd birthday. She was 88! I love you Yaya! 🙂

 

Family, Marriage, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH, TRAVEL

Fun Family Memories

I was looking at old family pictures this morning  and I had a good time seeing myself as a child, remembering all the trips we had as a family. I am so grateful to my parents for taking us to different places!

We went on more than one trip every single year — usually Batangas or Baguio on either of my parent’s birthdays, holy week, or on the All Saint’s Day weekend. We would go with many other relatives too, which made it so much more fun. It was usually either Iloilo or Cagayan de Oro for the summer, and my parents would put me in a ship with my nanny to get there! On few other summers, my parents would take us around the U.S. to visit relatives and popular tourist spots. Nothing like family trips to build wonderful childhood (and beyond) memories.

I was so excited to show the girls my pictures and share with them my experiences. They were equally excited and interested. It really inspired them, especially Danae, to want to visit the places I’ve been to. We prayed that God would take us to Disney World and Sea World! And for some reason, my girls have a thing for New York, which I’ve always loved as well. Wait till they see my Hawaii pictures! Oh, if only money were not an issue. We would have traveled the world by now!

 

We had a kick out of seeing how Danae looked a lot like I did, even in crying and pouting hahaha. She even commented “You’re brown like me!”

I am so thankful that we grew up with fun family traveling experiences. Even though I didn’t always appreciate them then, mainly during my long season of teenage (and early adulthood) angst, my brother and I carry in our own families this culture of traveling that my parents began. Being exposed to different places, people and experiences was truly a gift.

So to my late Dad & to my Mom, THANK YOU! Thank you for prioritizing traveling over the latest trends, toys or clothes when we were growing up. Thank you for making sure we stayed connected with cousins and relatives. And Mom, thank you for still being at it — for inviting us to go on trips with you and for encouraging us to take time to travel with family.

And so babe, to echo our daughters’ common question, where are we going next? 🙂

Family, My Kids, Parenting

HAND-ME-DOWNS

a repost from my tumbler (http://awellofwisdom.tumblr.com/), written October 27….

My 5-year old daughter had her best friend over today, and my hubby called me into the room they were at to show me what they had done. All the stuffed animals on the topmost shelf of my closet were on the floor — Danae climbed up and threw them all down! My friend asked me where all those toys came from, and I said most of them were mine. I realized that I had a couple of 26-year old stuffed animals still with me! Of course I’ve handed them down to my kids, but they’re still special to me. They were my first Disney stuffed toys (from Disney World, no less) — Thumper and Dumbo! I’m pretty sure those are the oldest, along with Figment the dragon. I just can’t let go of my Disneys because I was a Disney baby. I loved my cartoon classics. In fact I still have them….had them even before I got married and had kids. Come to think of it, I’ve handed down a lot of things to my daughters — from crayons & markers to coloring books & art paper, to Barbie dolls, toys & videos. I’m no hoarder, but I must say there’s merit in holding on to certain things. My kids now have a piece of my childhood. I say that’s pretty darn cool. 🙂