LAST weekend, we were supposed to be all about women, Sunday being International Women’s Day, no less. But we were sidetracked to the park. This month is still a celebration of women though, and celebrate women is what we do this weekend.
My mother Ruby turns 85 on Sunday, March 15, would you believe that! Though born in Manila, she has been Baguio-based for most of those 85 years, for 71 of those years, to be exact—having married my father Andy in 1956. They chose to live in the latter’s hometown. Happy birthday, Mom! We pray for many more happy years to come.
My mom’s mother was Corazon “Cory” Lopez Tan, she who sadly died in the last world war under the stairs that served as her family bunker from the American bombs dropping on Manila. Unfortunately, the bombs caused the stairs themselves to collapse, and a young Cory died holding her youngest child, a baby boy, who was spared his life because his mother shielded him with her body, and by doing so, lost her own life. We see here that all that they say about a mother’s love is true. This weekend, we remember Lola Cory as we celebrate women.
Lola Cory’s younger sister was named Adelaida “Dely” Lopez Tan, later Limson. “Cory” and “Dely” stare back at us from an antique picture, both lovely lasses posing in a studio for a family portrait. Auntie Dely became a lawyer even as the beauty representing her alma mater, FEU. She also served as my mother’s mother when Cory died.
In this moment of remembering, we must mention here our family “yaya” for the longest time, one Ricarda Sumalo, who joined the family in the mid-1960s and was always with us, directly or indirectly. She must have been in her early ‘20s when she arrived in Baguio from Davao, particularly to take care of my sister Helena, then two. “Cards” as the family came to call her, was with us until the 1980s, the boss of each of the family house/s we have lived in, truth be told.
I think of her and marvel at how she took care of each of us siblings with the cooking and the marketing and the cleaning etc. Of course, she often had underlings to do her bidding. In the 1980s, she chose to get her place, but still in Baguio. In the last years of her life, she went home to Heli in Manila and there passed away in the midst of sewing new curtains for the whole house, I’m told.
Still close to home, we pay tribute to my cousin Jennifer “Jingjing” Cariño, she who literally gave her life for the big words: Social justice, equity, cause. I have written that Jing was beautiful and brilliant both, and thinking back, can only marvel at the strength and courage it took to take to the hills when she did and as she did. Her name is on the Wall of Remembrance in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, just as her memory is in the hearts of those who knew her.
To Jing, Cards, Dely, Cory: We raise a glass in salute for lives lived in the very heroism of womanhood.
To Ruby, we say happy birthday and cheers and more years, Mom!