People who knew our Lola Cion can attest that I am the most favourite grandchild. EHEM. (She has a lot of favourites, or shall we say, she loves each and every one of us, but I am the bestest).
I am the favourite of them all. EHEM!: first apo to receive the most number of garuchaso. First apo to be shouted at. First apo to show the younger apos that we have to tremble at the mere dragon-look of our lola. I was the role model.
Lola Cion was a very, very special woman. Just like most grandmothers, her care was one that you will take to the other end of the world. She taught me to take care of family, of siblings, of sisters, of cousins, of aunts, of family. She taught me the value of having your presence felt in the midst of troubles – especially if this is happening in your own family. She will stretch her only peso just to be able to provide and to give them to us.
The life that we lived was not a walk in the park under the full shine of the moon. Ours was a roller coaster ride that we had to really hold on to each other, and to any available bars, and to always practice stomach strength.
I am not ashamed to share that there were times before when we barely had food to eat. I remembered, more than once, chene ya lang kame media chupa de arroz na lata and she would tell me na lehos pa el sueldo di ninay corie. Abla se le comigo mga 1pm na ase ya lang daw yo atole kunel arroz para dinoche para diamon disuyu mga apo – JC, Joyjoy, si Anging, si JanJan who was still small and I. Anda se ele na pueblo na pasaje lang disuyu sen para na jeep. She would always come back 2 or 3 hours later with her basket full of fresh harvest from the market: rice, gulay, pescao, pescao seco, pan. She would later tell me that it was either she went to Anti Celita or to any of her sisters to ask for at least 100 pesos so she can feed us.
Such is the resourcefulness of our Lola. Maskin Lola dragon se diamon, a disciplinarian, maskin duele gad le si ta supla de rama de guyabas, our food on the table and our well-being were her priorities.
She was my number one fan. She always reminded me that I was good. And that I could pass any exams that I wished to take. She took me to Fisheries on the day that I had to take the DOST scholarship examination. She woke up at 4am, prepared my baon and asked me to get ready. I knew we did not have enough back then but she still bought 2 Oyo Oyo Siopaos for me, which only costs 1 peso each back then. She then brought me to Fort Pilar first and bought me chikalang and juice there. We ate our breakfast facing the sea. Nuay pa paseo del mar.
It was one of my best moments with Lola Cion, just sitting there at the edge with our legs dangling out into the water down. She said, that if I pass this exam and I graduate from college – our lives will change. She said that I can then help my sister finish her studies and help my cousins as well.
When she said “cousins”, I was like “Porque man? Chene sila mga nana..” to which she replied “numa ansina Mae, kamo el bright.” Iyo daw el bright, hehe.
When I passed, she was the first one I wanted to know about it. She was the happiest.
My being a scholar, however, did not stop her from being, well, a terrorist. I was so mad when she took care of my expenses. She took hold of my allowances. Open minded as I wanted to believe I was, I did not understand. Anyway, I was able to use the money to buy my first computer set (which she just gave away a few years after thinking that it was not functioning anymore-rabyaw gad yo!) and to take the Engineering tour on my 4th year in college.
Lola Cion was Lola Cion, no other. She was this woman who I spent most of my Christmases and New Years alone. She taught me to value the spirit of Santa Claus and to value my being a Christian, a Catholic. She would pushed me to go to church every Sunday and was really proud when I was almost always chosen to lead the praying of the rosary before the mass every Sunday, or to do the readings at church. She pushed me to join the choir (maskin banayad abla pa si anti Lita) and because of her guidance, I pushed myself to be the first president of the Fatima Youth Organization in Calarian.
I only said no when she asked me to join the Junior CWL when I was 22 years old. I mean, no offense. During that time when I was growing up in the midst of the CWLs, I thought back then that all they did was to argue. So I hesitated. I passed.
I think she always knew that I wanted to soar, to leave. When I was hired to work in Clark, Pampanga on the year 2003 – she was devastated. She was hysterical. She even shouted “ni panty gane nusabe bo laba” (which was not literally true. I knew how to wash clothes with my hands). Luckily, my ninay Corie was there and she said “dyalo ya mang, manda kunele contra aki lang man tamen se ele. So she will learn to live by her own”.
Thank God for Godmothers. A week later, I flew to Luzon. 2 years after, I was transferred to Davao City. She even came to live with me and my sister in Davao for a few months. She was also really happy there. She ate ice cream all the time!
Some 3 years later, I came back to say goodbye again: I accepted a job offer in Kuala Lumpur. This she embraced easily. More income means more money. Our lives, especially that my sister was also already starting to earn on her own, eventually changed, bit by bit.
A year later, on 2011 I came back to Zamboanga. This time, my Lola Cion is already showing signs of being slow, but never frail. Oh no! She was still the same strong Lola. The same Lola Amazona. I came back on 2011 to ask for her blessings that I finally found the man with whom I wanted to share my life with.
She took it easy, or so I thought. On the morning of the day of my departure from Zamboanga, she was hysterical. She was so mad. I was equally angry. I felt unjustified. I worked so hard for her, for them, that I felt like she didn’t want me to be happy. I was harsh.
She started breaking our things at the apartment. Then she collapse and cried “Deja ya gad bo comigo Mae. Numa comigo déjà.” I was broken.
I left still. That was the time I saw my Lola Cion alive. Crying on the floor while being held by my mother with her face full of tears.
She was okay when I arrived in Manila. When I arrived in the place where I wanted to be. I call them as soon as I have the opportunity. She was okay. She told me she loved me always. I told her the same thing. She was one of my favourite person in this world and I would do everything for her.
This September would have been the first time she would see my small family. She was so excited that even months before she would everyday asks my sister if it was September already. They said that there was a time last month that she started packing her bag saying that she would be meeting my Zoe the next day in Cebu.
When I gave birth and fought for my life after, I heard the story from my sister Anging as to how my Lola took it. That she gave her 1000 pesos to Anging begging her to fly the world to be with me.
Such is her compassion and care that I made it. I survived. And I am here giving this eulogy.
On behalf of my grandmother’s daughters, son in laws, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews and nieces, family, friends and relatives, I want to personally thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for being here to celebrate my Lola Cion’s departure from her earthly body to be with our Creator and Redeemer. We knew that my Lola had not always been perfect – you see, her being strong headed, stubborn and a disciplinarian – earned her some petty enemies (Lola Teresita Narciso can confirm to that). Some people may have never understood her, to which she did not care any less, but to us – she is this epitome of goodness and joyful tidings.
When my Lola was around, our home smelled of cakes and sweets and ulam! She was one of the best cooks!
I grew up wearing dresses and skirts that Lola Cion herself sewed!
Lola, I want you to know that I have always wanted the best for you. I did not want you to suffer, and so I strove hard to finish my school and to be able to earn. I wanted to give you the best in this world, to which I failed partially, as I knew that you would have not been able to have this easily.
I am who I am now mainly because of you. You moulded me to be what I am.
I hope you are proud of what I have become. That was one of my greatest goal; knowing that you would be one day proud of me,
Thank you for choosing to live with us. It had been a bit difficult, and a bit odd, knowing that we were just your grandchildren. Thank you for taking care of Anging, for being her sister, her mother, her bestfriend and her nemesis when I was away this past 10 years or so.
Thank you for the songs, for the stories, for teaching us to love God above all else.
I have read that Grief is the price we pay for love. If this is the price that I have to pay for loving you so much, then so be it. Your incomparable love to your grandchildren and great grandchildren, to me, to us, is so vast that not even this eulogy can not encompass.
I love God through you. You have never seen my Zoe, or my Armand, face to face. But they know the love that you have for me and for them and the love that I have for you.
I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me how to love.