We left Muntinlupa pass lunch hoping to arrive in San Francisco de Malabon [ok, Gen. Trias today] at around 1pm. We rode like the wind in Daang Hari, gone are the days when we would catch a ride, those groovy mini buses with slow rock themes somewhere in Baclaran, to get to Trias. Once we reached Dasmariñas, entering Governors Rd. then Gen. Trias, we hardly recognize the area that we spent more than 30 minutes trying to find that quaint small subdivision, St. Francis Village in barrio San Juan, where my Lola and my father’s sister lived for four decades. The vast farm lands are now gone, replaced with residential development. The last time I visited was in the late 80’s, barely out of grade school, I never returned, until now, more than 20 years of absence! I personally regret this, I should’ve never waited this long – I thought my Lola would be disappointed and I wish she was and that she showed it but no, she was the same kind, soft spoken and loving lola to me, nothing has changed. How could I forget such an important person, for without her we will not be all here today.
Lola is the lone surviving grandparent [that we know] for us boys on both sides of our parents. She’s the youngest ofa brood consisting of 19 [my Father said 14]. One of her dear Ate is my Father’s mother. They’re from the legendary clan of Cañete from Barili. Three of her brother’s co-founded the Dose Pares method of escrima [believed to be the best stick fighting-arnis style] Today, a worldwide martial art. Funny thing is that it’s more popular abroad than here. The Wikipedia entry, which I suspect was made by someone who knows the Doce Pares well, list Ciriaco as still being alive – a brother? my Lola can’t recall whether he is. Lola took care of my father’s sister, as both lost their parents at an early age, while she brought my Father to Bukidnon to an Aunt, so he could get an education while learning how to work in the pineapple farm managed by the lawyer husband of that Aunt. Here he not only learned to farm but to read and write – he also learn how to ride horses. Everything dramatically changed during the Japanese invasion. The situation was made worst when guerilla’s implicated some of the Cañete’s with the Japanese, some Uncles and relatives were executed by Filipino guerillas. My father could still recall an uncle who was mercilessly shot in the head. Strangely, some Cañete’s still fought alongside the GI’s and the guerillas to liberate Cebu. We could only get a glimpse of what happened in the past through their stories; we’ll never truly understand how it was, how they suffered, what was life like, for us who are used to the comforts of our modern lives these are just some war tales old people tell.
We regularly visit General Trias back in the 80’s, it was an event for the whole family. There were summers that I’ll be allowed to take my vacations here but stayed with my Aunt and cousins whose house was just at the backside of my Lola’s. Lola and my Aunt never parted ever since they were brought together by the deaths of my father’s parents. I could say that it was in General Trias that I first fell in love with nature. My Aunt has several fruit bearing trees in her backyard, Indian mangoes that at times had more fruits than leaves, while my Lola’s garden had tomatoes, okra, sili and guyabano. She also had this miniature bamboo trees that not only provide shade, it also made interesting sounds whenever winds would push its narrow leaves and goldish trunks against each other. There is an irrigation canal near the house, I thought then was a natural river; some big trees are standing near its waters. Here, we would catch dragonflies, the tutubing calabao and the tutubing carayum during afternoons, the most number are expected after each rainfall and when the sun disappears from the sky, wonderful alitaptap can be seen hovering above the irrigation water and the plants that grow close to it. So beautiful that I’ll spend hours just looking at them until I get called to go inside. Diners are always good but I’ll never forget the simple tinapa and kamatis combo that we buy in the market. When I told my father then that I enjoyed it even if was served almost daily, he said that it was because tinapa was my Aunt’s favorite ulam and that Cavite makes fine tinapa so it was not a surprise for him. Unfortunately her kids doesn’t share her passion for tinapas because often we’ll be the only ones that eat it. Too bad she’s in the US vacationing with her husband, I wanted to see her. Aunt’s youngest daughter is here but my Lola told me that they’re in Manila shopping. Their house is closed but there I could see trees I so cherished when I was young.
I thank God for my Lola’s good health, she’s turning 80. She impressed me and my father with her exceptional memory. She teased my Father for looking older than her and having a memory of a “tigulang”. We are lucky to have our Lola [& Lolo’s], it’s important that we remember them and all the wonderful things they’ve done for us. Cherish their presence; show them our love and appreciation. They’re our forebear and our angels; God’s greatest gift.